Take a random group of oddballs who meet each other in a therapy group. Add an over-precious and ever enthusiastic group leader. Spice it up with an eccentric doctor. Then stir in some typical group games and therapeutic jargon. Light the blue touch paper and stand back for laughter.
That’s the core idea of La La Theatre’s production of ‘Therapy’ which was a hit at the Marlborough back in 2015. Re-imagined for its latest run at the Rialto, it certainly had the sell-out audience laughing at all the one-liners and every gag.
We follow the four protagonists through a series of therapeutic scenarios. They get to know each other. They see some objects and have to say the first thing that comes to their mind. There’s a wooden chicken, a photo of a he-man. It’s time to touch each other. Take a deep breath – go on – try it! And blow a raspberry. Well done, good. It’s all about trust.
Yes, you have arrived at the Orpady School of Higher Insight Training (or OSHIT for short).
It is a beautiful setting for a comedy. But it still needs a few tweaks. Tara Harley, who has written, directed and produced the play certainly deserved the applause at the end for taking on such a big task. She even had to shuffle a stray pigeon out of the theatre’s rafters minutes before the audience arrived!
But taking on all those roles also presents a challenge. It means that there is no second eye on some aspects. At times, the characters said their lines but did not embody their roles. Some silent moments or careful eye contact between the characters could say much more. Coralie Banks, who played the older woman, hit this note with some aplomb.
There was a tendency in places to over explain. So, cutting the script by a fifth could allow the actors to breath and help the audience to infer rather than be told. This could also enhance the clever twists in the plot towards the end.
‘Therapy’ is still a very funny play and is a couple of shakes away from being even funnier. We are looking forward to seeing it again.
Rialto, Friday 12th October 2018