A NoHo Arts theatre review of “Classic Couples Counseling,” written by Lloyd J. Schwartz, and directed by Nick McDow Musleh, running through May 8 at Theatre West.
Imagine a therapist who specializes in couples counseling, with her office flooded with some of the most iconic Shakespearean couples. Trying her best to fix their issues, advising them, cajoling them, listening to their crazy stories, all the while imagining that she could actually affect their predestined outcomes. That is “Classic Couples Counseling.” Every character from your favorite play portrayed as really people, Romeo and Juliet as the teenage hormone bombs they really were, Katherine and Petruchio, fighting, insulting and lusting – only this time it makes sense. Then, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth being unregretfully psychotic, Othello pouting and Desdemona clueless, and the always interfering Emilia in deep denial about her own dastardly husband Iago. And, of course, Hamlet and Ophelia projecting wildly all over the place. It’s a divine Elizabethan mash up and, as they try to face their troubles, we see them struggle to find meaning in it all. Shakespeare’s famous lack of subtext can’t help them now!
It’s a brilliant setup for a very funny play. The stage at Theatre West is the perfect backdrop for the action and as each couple sits down on the couch to unload, they stay impeccably in character, oozing that fateful Italian (and Danish and Scottish) charm, trying to listen, desperate to change, but unable to run far from their true natures.
Everyone is so brilliant in this play, there’s no point in singling anyone out. I absolutely love the way they all took their characters to the limits. Othello so determined to be betrayed, Juliet a thumb sucking 13, Katherine raising the roof, Hamlet whining, and the Macbeths demented and unhinged and yet still totally in control.
It’s a very funny premise and the therapist, played by Constance Mellors, is absolutely phenomenal. She is the perfect center around which all this madness revolves.
I can only imagine the fun they all had working this play out. This lovely big cast, all those juicy egos bouncing off each other, the characters of course, not the actors!
Don’t we all need to laugh right now! I know I do, and you will laugh…alot.
Did you know that Theatre West is the oldest continually running Los Angeles theatre, established in 1962 and nearly 70% of its plays are original works developed in its workshops and many of them have gone on to Broadway, regional tours and even to feature films?
“Classic Couples Counseling’s” writer, Lloyd J. Schwartz is old school Hollywood having written for TV, been an ABC network executive and co-created “Harper Valley P.T.A.” with his father, the legendary Sherwood Schwartz. So this is pure Hollywood. Together with his wife Barbara, Schwartz also created the long-running Storybook Theatre that create children’s plays at Theatre West.
I highly recommend “Classic Couples Counseling.” I love going to the theatre, but I love it all the more when I can laugh as much as I did to this hilarious, inventive and very clever play! Bravo!
The cast for “Classic Couples Counseling” includes Rick Simone-Friedland, Deanna Gandy, Cecil Jennings, Amelia Vargas, Brandon Foxworth, Mary Elisabeth Somers, Joe Nassi, Barbara Mallory, Bill Sehres, Anne Leyden, Ashley Taylor, and Constance Mellors. Cast alternates: Samantha Layton, Alex Mashikian.
Running through May 8
Friday and Saturday at 8PM, Sunday at 2PM
Theatre West https://theatrewest.org/
3333 Cahuenga Blvd, L.A. 90068