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Hands-on Therapy 

Thursday, Sep 4 2008
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Playwright Toby Campion's comedy about love and psychotherapy opens with a clever, emotionally ambiguous sequence showing the genesis of a love affair between the least professional psychotherapist ever, and his sultry patient/ inamorata. The show ends with a twist that's genuinely surprising, as well. Unfortunately, between these two dynamic scenes, we must wade through a concatenation of poorly developed concepts, meanderingly and self-indulgent dialogue, and inert characters. Almost from their first session, professional therapist Mike (Michael Etzrodt) is unnerved when his gorgeous patient, Rocio (Liz Del Sol), falls for him. Rocio needs help to resolve her frustration with her domineering mother, Otillia (Alejandra Flores). Mike at first tries to do the ethical thing, which is to curtail therapy with Rocio, but she relentlessly pursues him, not realizing that, like many shrinks in other romantic comedies, he is far more screwed up than she could ever be. Meanwhile, her mom falls for Mike's best pal, Catholic priest Godfrey (Shelly Kurtz). With director Edward Padilla's perplexingly stiff and humorless staging lacking the irony needed to find the comedy in this quirky subject matter, the limp plotting only amplifies the situations' lack of coherence and psychological believability. (Emotions are expressed without even a glimmer of their consequences.) Flores is nicely fiery as the mother – but she's not able to entirely carry the poorly thought-out script.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: Aug. 29. Continues through Sept. 21, 2008

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