“Group Therapy” is a hilarious new play by writer Peter Lefcourt. Two patients collide one morning at their therapist’s office. One is on time, the other forgot to set her clocks back and so is an hour late for her appointment. But the therapist is a no show, caught in the traffic caused by a gunman on the loose in the area, after taking potshots at seemingly random people from an office building.
Two strangers – one an uptight and fastidious podiatrist and the other a wild child whose aging out of the charm of that and is unemployed or possibly unemployable – are destined for this moment in their extremely disparate lives. As they twitch and tremble their way through the stress of not having therapy, they bond…and not that pleasantly. Once they realise they are stuck in this windowless office until their building is released from the lockdown, the informal alliance they have made is fully activated when the marauding gunman hurtles into their space seeking refuge from the cops. After terrorising both of them for a while, the gunman finally opens up and explains her reasons for her rampage and how she was deliberately not shooting at anyone at all.
While not fully conceding to her claims, the two trapped, emotionally damaged patients recognise potential for escape and play along, encouraging a peaceful solution, comically using their learned therapy lingo to cajole the gunman and facilitate their freedom. Yet, all does not go according to their hastily thrown-together plan, however, unsurprisingly.
It’s very funny. In a high-stress, weirdly conceivable way. It’s a perfect premise for these excellent actors to perform. Ricocheting of each other’s angst, over sharing, unlocking years of snail-like progress with a therapist who might be enabling their therapy addiction to her own financial ends, rather than actually ‘curing’ them of anything…if therapy could even do that.
It’s a commentary on therapy, those who routinely spend an hour a week in therapy, and how empathy may not always be the smartest choice. Particularly when trapped in a room with someone whose agenda creates chaos and who has a big gun.
The performances are superb. Really. Funny, real, searingly so. I know these people…we all do. They are probably in your house right now in fact. I love plays that feature characters we see every day, put them under extreme stress, and see what happens.
“Group Therapy” is a brilliantly engaging, laugh-out-loud funny play. It’s perfect for the Theatre 68 Arts Complex, which seems hell bent on giving home to new, very clever, gorgeously produced work such as this.
This is a NoHo play in a NoHo theatre and you should absolutely go and see it! No pressure…it runs every weekend till August 20th, but you know how it goes…the best-laid plans and all that, we always run out of time!!
Extended through August 27!
Friday and Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 2pm
Theatre 68 Arts Complex
5112 Lankershim Blvd, NoHo Arts District, CA 91406
The Group Therapy cast will feature (in alphabetical order) Andy Hoff, Ashley Platz, and Marnina Schon; Sawyer Fuller and Cat Masterson serve as alternates.
Scenic design is by Celine Diano, lighting design is by Donny Jackson, costume design is by Mylette Nora, sound design is by Stephanie Yackovetsky, and properties designer is Jenine MacDonald. Combat consultant is Julie Ouellette and graphic design is by Nancy Nimoy. Casting is by Michael Donovan, CSA, and Richie Ferris, CSA. Misha Riley is general manager, and the production stage manager is Roella Dellosa.