nytheatre.com review by Ethan Angelica
August 10, 2013
A scene from Killer Therapy
Does strength breed aggression? Must pacifism only equate to openness and connection? And what happens when you reverse these equations? These are the big questions asked in Killer Therapy, Brandt Johnson's new play in FringeNYC. And they are important ones. Yet, the play itself is a rambling, confused jumble of scenes that never dives deep enough into these issues to actually make the audience think hard about them.
Killer Therapy is the story of an infamous assassin who barges into a therapist’s office as she is headed out the door for a spin class. Turns out, our assassin (who may not be what he seems) is in the throes of a midlife crisis, while our therapist slowly unravels as she allows politeness and apology to get in the way of her goals. Between an impromptu workout session, some odd role-play and lots of obtuse, heady conversation, our assassin finds a purpose and the therapist gains the courage to stand up for herself. Yet, this journey is so disjointed that both my viewing partner and I spent the better part of an hour trying to trace out exactly what happened in the play, and we both agreed that the resolution at the end was just as confusing as the plot. While there are a few good laugh lines, I credit most of them to performance, and not the script.
The production is quite lucky to have the spectacular Summer Broyhill as half of this two hander. As the neurotic, quirky therapist, she shows that she can find the truth in any moment. She is a comic dynamo with some of the best timing I have ever seen, and her phone call bit is the highlight of the entire play. Under Katie Lindsay's careful direction, which provides much-needed momentum, she is able to surmount the challenges of the script and create a dynamic character with a real and honest journey. The production values are very high, especially for a FringeNYC show, and Michael Minahan deserves praise for a spectacularly realistic set on an indie theater budget.
I wish Killer Therapy had offered the incisive questioning of human nature that it seems to want to do, especially through comedy. While the writing is occasionally smart, the play rambles along and loses whatever bite it may have along the way, never really asking much of its audience besides a laugh here and there. Perhaps with some tightening and stronger structure, this play might be able to broach discussion on the real questions it seeks to answer. Right now, however, it's more confusing than anything else.