Reviewed by on    Professional Theatre  

It seems the majority of people these days are either in the process of getting it, talking about getting it or researching what type they should get. How well does it work and how honestly are we prepared to explore our inner demons? Playwright Bernard Farrell weighs in on the questions with a decidedly pessimistic, though hilarious view in I Do Not Like Thee, Dr. Fell. The play, in a great production by SevenThirty productions, pokes fun at not only the idea of group therapy but participants’ willingness to actually be open with each other on anything other than a superficial level.It is set in an attic room in Dublin, Ireland in which participants are locked in for the night to, in the words of the impossibly chirpy group co-ordinator, Suzy (Kely Rigole) “relax, relate and communicate.” Although the session starts out normally enough, it soon turns into chaos, as Joe Fell (Stewart Matthews), a seemingly innocent young participant with a stutter, continually disrupts the session by calling out falsehoods in others’ stories. Matthews handles the difficult role well, maintaining an innocence backed by a layer of manipulative deviousness simmering under the surface throughout. The script leaves the audience feeling a little off balance. The play sets up the situation well, but leaves the end completely up to viewer’s interpretation. One is never really sure of the motivation behind Joe’s actions or who the other characters really are. The audience works off of partial hints revealed by Joe’s actions. John P. Kelly’s direction is fast-paced and exhilarating, a must for a play that bases itself around one night and human interaction. Tim Oberholzer is particularly affective in his role as Roger, an academic addicted to group therapy with a knowledge of Latin and psychobabble to spare. He uses his body with great success to convey a man who is at once excited to self-discover and who is extremely private and scared of anyone actually finding out who he truly is. One also simply can’t forget Kathi Langston, who plays Rita as a sweet and simple-minded woman fixated on her husband’s possible untimely death at the paws of savage dogs and her 12 (or is it 13?) cats. The play may frustrate some due to its lack of clear answers, but in the end, clarifications are not what it is after. Instead, we are taken on a strange and chaotic experience of a therapy session that is disrupted by a young man who, no matter how much of a jerk he is being, is only forcing those around him to confront the truth, something no one seems to want to do.