By John Patrick Shanley
Directed by Janice Muller
With Kate Cole, Olivia Connolly, Daniel Frederiksen, Trent Baker & Richard Stables
Lighting by Nick Merrylees
Psychopathia Sexualis (September 4 – September 29, 2002) –Chris Boyd, Herald Sun 09 Sep-02
Red Stitch has broadened the spread of plays in Melbourne, performing works by important lesser-known playwrights, like Bronx-born John Patrick Shanley.
Shanley is best known, here, for Danny & the Deep Blue Sea and his Oscar-winning script for the film Moonstruck.
Psychopathia Sexualis is fast-paced and riotously funny.
Bride-to-be Lucille discovers her artist lover Arthur has a sock fetish and has been seeing a shrink for six years.
Without a pair of his father’s argyle socks at hand, Arthur is impotent.
The problem becomes acute when the psychiatrist confiscates the socks.
That’s the basic plot, but the play is all about the facade of friendship and the sleight of hand by which we pretend to be happy and coping.
Ellie and Howard are Lucille and Arthur’s so-called friends. Howard is obsessed with demonstrating his superiority. For Ellie, friendship is a competitive sport.
Shanley’s characters live in their own hermetically-sealed worlds. They talk but rarely listen.
Janice Muller’s production, likewise, consists of five actors doing it for themselves. They are a delight to watch, one and all.
Daniel Frederiksen has the toughest task, playing the fetishist. And he is the most impressive.
Kate Cole puts in a HUGE performance as Lucille. The role is totally hokey and caricatured, and Cole doesn’t fight it.
Richard Stables does the cravat-wearing, buttoned-up toff to a tee. Olivia Connolly is quivering and devious as Ellie. And Trent Baker doesn’t draw breath as the shrink from hell.
Olivia Connolly and Richard Stables in Psychopathia Sexualis. Photo: Jodie Hutchinson.
Narrelle Harris, Stage Left 06-Sep-02
Anyone who’s watched Seinfeld or a Woody Allen film will know that the Americans excel at neurotic comedy. Psychopathia Sexualis is a sparkling addition to the field.
The premise is pure farce. Arthur (Daniel Frederiksen) is soon to be married to Lucille (Kate Cole). Unfortunately, he’s unable to make love without a particular pair of Argyle socks in the vicinity, and said socks have been confiscated by Arthur’s frustrated therapist, Dr Bloch (Trent Baker).
The rest of the story is a storm of anxiety, bluster and aggressive psychotherapy as Arthur’s friends try to retrieve the vital footwear before the wedding night. Rounding out the cast are Richard Stables as the pompous Howard and Olivia Connolly as Ellie.
The cast tackle the play with enormous verve and panache, at the same time handling a variety of American accents. The characters are played to the hilt, and Janice Muller’s direction keeps everything moving at a tight pace.
This production scarcely misses a beat as it takes on John Patrick Shanley’s delightful script. The result is an achingly funny show about love, sex and therapy.