Beyond Therapy: On Stage in Visalia

Mar 2, 2011 | Arts & Entertainment, Theatre

by Nancy Holley

Special KRL coupon at the end of this article for the March 5 show!

Beyond Therapy by Christopher Durang is a zany comedy about relationships. Director Elicia Russell loves the fact that Durang is not afraid to write the words that everyone is thinking, but afraid to say. Russell hopes that while viewers are laughing, they will realize there is something to be taken away. “Durang can make any situation funny, but his stories always have a message.”

The cast of six include two women and four men whose relationships are convoluted, kooky, and yet sincere. Bruce played by Timothy Rich has been convinced by his psychiatrist Charlotte (Rachel Sievers) to say and do whatever he is feeling at any time. Bruce’s prospective wife Prudence (Ariel Barrios) is still a patient of psychiatrist Stewart (Karl Schoettler) despite the fact that she has ended their affair. Much to Bruce’s chagrin, his lover Bob (Ryan Pullen) leaves a chaotic restaurant scene with the waiter (Chance Croft). There is never a dull moment!

From left to right: Ryan Pullen, Timothy Rich, & Ariel Barrios

Rich describes Bruce as sweet and naïve, who through therapy, has come to believe that his male lover and his future wife can live under one roof and everything will be okay. Rich wanted the role of Bruce when he first read the play because once married and wanting a male lover, he got Bruce’s conflict. According to Rich, Durang writes very conversationally but leaves conflict resolution to the imagination. “He wants his characters to be believable.”

According to Sievers, Charlotte is extremely smart but kooky. “She has thoughts that come out of nowhere, but she is very caring about people.” Sievers enjoys Durang as a playwright and was anxious to work with Russell. “Durang’s characters are deep, and as an actor, you have to dig and dig to get the whole picture.”

“Prudence is very aware of other people and looking for how to deal with the possibility of a bisexual husband,” states Barrios with a smile. Barrios admits that Prudence is not the best judge of character since she continues to have her ex-lover as her therapist. “She’s confused and afraid that the next person might not be as good.” Barrios is familiar with Durang’s work and appreciates his ability to focus on issues society is dealing with today. “People are imperfect, but you have to find the better imperfection.”

From left to right: Ariel Barrios & Karl Schoettler

When asked about Stewart, Schoettler replied without hesitation, “Stewart is a male chauvinist pig with a low sense of self-esteem. He’s the most dangerous kind because he’s also a therapist.” Schoettler finds it interesting to be playing a character with a personality opposite his own, using language that will shock his mother. He hopes to develop a Stewart that audiences will despise and yet toward whom will feel sympathetic. His interest in the play developed from knowing Durang’s off beat and irreverent style. “The audience is in for a very funny evening. They’ll forget about their every day cares and have a good laugh.”

Pullen, who portrays Bob, Bruce’s lover, is very excited to be acting again. After five years of directing, Pullen quipped, “It’s nice to be on stage with all the fun and none of the worries!” He describes Christopher Durang as challenging social norms with laughter that keeps the play’s themes from being “preachy”. According to Pullen, Beyond Therapy ventures outside well known relationship structures, investigating the needs of people in love.

Please note that Beyond Therapy contains adult language. The show opens at the Ice House Theatre at Race and Santa Fe in Visalia at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 4, 2011 and runs for three weekends with evening performances at 7:30 p.m. on 3/4, 3/5, 3/11, 3/12, 3/18, and 3/19 and matinees at 2:00 p.m. on 3/6, 3/13 and 3/20.

For more information about the Visalia Players, check out their website or check read KRL’s article on the company. For details about local arts groups in Tulare County, visit

Print this page and take to the show to get discount:
Visalia Community Players Two-For-One Coupon
Beyond Therapy
By Christopher Durang
Admit 2 Adults for $12.00
7:30 p.m. – Saturday Night March 5, 2011
One Coupon Per Family

Watch for another Local Live, here next Wednesday at 7 p.m

Nancy Holley has been involved with the Visalia Community Players off and on since the 1970’s, both as a director and actor. In July, she retired from 25 years as a software consultant and has since then expanded her role at the Players and is now Vice President of the Board, and on the perusal committee.

1 Comment

  1. Chance Croft was hot!!!!! too bad he didn’t have a bigger part. Will he be in anything else soon?


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