The Hippo


May 30, 2020








Kevin Linkroum and Sarah Fagan. Courtesy photo.

See Beyond Therapy

Where: Amato Center for the Performing Arts, 56 Mont Vernon St., Milford
When: Friday, March 21, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, March 22, at 8 p.m.; Sunday, March 23, at 2 p.m.; Friday, March 28, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, March 29, at 8 p.m.; and Sunday, March 30, at 2 p.m.
Tickets: $12

Living Beyond Therapy
Milford Area Players present absurd comedy

By Kelly Sennott

 Beyond Therapy is the Milford Area Players’ first production since Wit, the fall show that won the coveted “Best Production” category at the NH Theatre Awards this January. The Players are coming back with some returning chemistry — four of the Beyond Therapy cast members were in the fall’s award-winning production — but the similarities end there.

The shows, say Amherst director Vick Bennison and Londonderry and Nashua actors Amy Agostino and  Kevin Linkroum, couldn’t be more different. Wit was a tragedy about an English professor’s final days with terminal ovarian cancer. Beyond Therapy by Christopher Durang, on the other hand, is a 1980s comedy about a couple whose therapists and mixed-up personal lives cause chaos and calamity.
The show takes center stage at the Amato Center for the Arts during the next two weekends, March 21 through March 30.
“We realize that not all of our plays are going to be award-winners,” said Director Vick Bennison in a phone interview. He called from the Amato Center itself; he’d been cutting 24-foot boards into eight-foot boards for the play’s rotating sets. And that’s fine; indeed, while Wit was well-received critically, Bennison said it deterred many theater-goers who didn’t feel they could handle the show’s dire subject. Just because a show is done very well doesn’t mean it’ll be good for ticket sales.
He thinks Beyond Therapy will be more of a crowd-pleaser.
“I’d seen Beyond Therapy about 10 years ago. I really loved it. When we were deciding what plays to do, I put it forward. It’s a hysterical comedy,” Bennison said. “But what I liked here is that there’s a lot of heart in it, more so than a lot of his stuff. You come to really care about the characters and their plight.”
The farcical comedy focuses on two Manhattanites named Prudence and Bruce. They’re seeking stable romantic relationships, but they’re struggling. Prudence’s therapist, Dr. Stuart Cunningham, is urging her to be more assertive, while Bruce’s, Dr. Charlotte Wallace, wants him to meet a woman by placing a personal ad. Their first meeting is disastrous, the second a bit better. Perhaps the most climactic scene comes at the end of Act I, when Prudence discovers that Bruce is a bisexual and has a live-in boyfriend named Bob.
The entire rehearsal process, Linkroum said, has been quite different than that of Wit.
“You definitely feel the difference. You go in and leave rehearsals for Beyond Therapy with more spring in your step,” Linkroum said. 
Performing with familiar cast members has been great, too.
“It’s nice to work with people who you’ve worked with before. You know how they prepare, and you know whether you can joke around with them,” Linkroum said.
Even if you’re familiar with some of these actors, you haven’t seen them all quite like this. Amy Agostino is playing her first comedic role ever. She played nurse Susie Monahan in Wit, and it played to her strengths theatrically and professionally — she’s a nurse in real life. Her role as Dr. Charlotte Wallace is remarkably opposite.
“I am a nurse in real life, so Susie was just such a representation of me. Charlotte couldn’t be [more] different. I’m a first-born Virgo. Charlotte is insane. And she uses a dreadful word I’ve never used in my adult life,” Agostino said. (It rhymes with    sock-plucker.) “But it’s a fun difference. You have Susie, the nurturing caretaker, and then you have Charlotte, who barks at her patients with a Snoopy doll.” (Specifically, the line is, “Bravo, good for you, woof woof!”)
In the midst of these familiar faces are a couple new ones, too — lead actress Sarah Fagan, who plays Prudence, is not only new to Milford but new to the New Hampshire theater scene as a whole, having recently moved here from New Jersey. 
The show is not quite kid-friendly — and, it should be noted, might offend some, too. Gary Trahan, who plays Dr. Cunningham, describes the show as “outlandishly off-the-wall, smartly stupid and offensively sweet.”
“There are some really dated references to and attitudes about homosexuality and bisexuality,” Agostino said. “We’ve certainly come a long way. … We’ll offend a good number of people, but we’ll send them out laughing.” 
As seen in the March 20, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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