Christopher Durang’s witty work hits the Actors’ Theatre
Theater director Gerry Gerringer sits in a tiny office, and we talk, like therapist to patient, which is ironic, since he’s directing a play about such things, with Christopher Durang’s “Beyond Therapy,” opening up at the Actors’ Theatre on Feb. 25 and running through March 19.
“It’s really a clever, funny script,” Gerringer says. “It was kind of a play for its time, and now as time has elapsed since the ’80s when it was written, it becomes kind of a satire that’s relevant today. Though all of the characters in some ways have their strangeness, the two therapists who are in this play are so out there and eccentric that it’s almost going beyond therapy to think that they can help these people. Comedy is very therapeutic. I think humor connects people and provides access to dialogue about different political issues. Laughter is one of the best things you can do on a regular basis.”
Gerringer is both the operations manager at the Actors’ Theatre in Santa Cruz, and the director of “Beyond Therapy.” He has worked with theater arts in Santa Cruz since the 1980s.
“Beyond Therapy” takes place in a 1980s New York City setting, and follows a group of eccentric and zany characters in a quest for basic human connection. The play questions and explores the idea of alternate sexual identities.
“It really is about a guy who is kind of ahead of his time as far as the acceptance of sexuality,” says Gerringer. “I think it’s a perfect show for Santa Cruz, because this is such a liberal town in many ways. You’ve got guys walking down the street in $2,000 jeans, and guys walking down the street in 20-year-old Levi’s, and everybody gets along relatively well—better than they do in this play.”
The cast of “Beyond Therapy” is diverse and includes both professional and student talent. UC Santa Cruz (UCSC) student actors, Jacob Cribbs and Todd Pivetti, will appear on stage amidst an assemblage of veteran Santa Cruz thespians.
“The cast is a very nice dynamic,” Gerringer says. “I haven’t worked with many casts that are this talented up and down. I think people will really be surprised by the caliber of the performances.”
The plot revolves around two main characters, Prudence and Bruce, and their therapists. Bruce, played by local actor Nathan Caracter, is a bisexual lawyer with a gay lover named Bob. Bruce has placed a personal ad in the paper in hopes of meeting a heterosexual female.
Julia Cunningham, a newcomer to the Santa Cruz theater community from North Carolina, will play Prudence. Her character represents the status quo in many ways. She is a heterosexual writer for People magazine who is taken aback by the romantic advances of Bruce.
“Each character has their own little quirks and eccentricities,” Gerringer says. “One of the funny lines in this play is when Bruce is talking to Prudence. He says, ‘Oh, we’ll live in Connecticut. Bob will live over the garage. It will be wonderful.’”
“Beyond Therapy” opens Friday, Feb.25 and is scheduled to run through March 19. Tickets can be purchased at brownpapertickets.com, by calling 425-PLAY, or an hour before curtain at the theater box office. The Actors’ Theatre is at 1001 Center St., Santa Cruz. For more information, visit ww.santacruzactorstheatre.org.