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Published Oct. 13, 2005

Three love-lorn characters and their two wacky therapists are the subjects of scrutiny in Beyond Therapy, a zany comedy presented by local theater company Altered Stages and opening today. The play, by Christopher Durang, spoofs America's obsession with psychiatric solutions to love and life in the 1980s. Set in New York, the plot revolves around the unlikely love entanglements that form when a career woman on the hunt for a husband ventures into the city's singles scene.

To weather stormy emotions, the characters turn to the dubious guidance of their therapists. But behind these modern-day tales of intrigue, Beyond Therapy also touches on timeless issues such as sexuality, marriage and the search for personal identity.

"The play deals with people looking to connect, and looking for love," said company member Leah Petrokubi. "In the whole decade of the '80s, everybody was in therapy for assistance in relationships and daily life."

Beyond Therapy became both an off- and on-Broadway success in the early 1980s. Altered Stages brings the production to the Octagon Arts Center in Clearwater, on Fridays and Saturdays, today through June 29; there is one Thursday performance, June 27.

The production marks the end of the ensemble theater company's second season. A company that seeks to perform contemporary works, Altered Stages is arranged as an artists' collective. It has a core group of members who take turns producing, directing and acting in each production.

Elizabeth Brincklow directs Beyond Therapy; Leah Petrokubi and Nancy Seibert act. Other actors recruited for the show include Tyler Bunch, James Faucett, Rob Sakoff and Patrick Sheehy.

All performances are at 8 p.m. at the Octagon Arts Center, Unitarian Universalist Church, 2470 Nursery Road, Clearwater. Call 736-4392 (Pinellas).