New Play Explores Therapist Burnout

What happens when a therapist loses his grip on reality?

From top left, clockwise: Joshua Bouchard, Aamira Martinez, Harry Barandes, Hannah Jane Ginsberg, AhDream Smith, Claire Buckingham

“THE TALKING CURE” an exciting new one-act play produced by the New York Theater Festival at the Guild Theater, Jan 26, 28 & 29th, opens with Dr. Arthur Russo, a Manhattan psychotherapist, feeling tormented by his patients.

“In the beginning seeing patients was a pleasure. But after twelve long years, they’re like a plague. They cling to me like a disease.”

Ghosts from his past and an unexpected tragedy fuel Arthur’s emotional deterioration, giving audiences a rare peek into the inner struggles of a psychotherapist wrestling with his own demons.

The play follows four challenging psychotherapy patients, from their initial sessions to their last: Gil, a handyman with a passion for married women; Lucy, a reluctant sex industry worker; Monica, an upscale housewife haunted by her impoverished childhood; and Natalie, a young Christian woman overwhelmed by a forbidden obsession.

“The process of working with a new play like THE TALKING CURE is pure joy for me”, explains director Alan Wynroth, “Especially the interplay among the playwright, director and actors. The truth of the play and the characters emerge in this collaboration.”

The Cast

Joshua Bouchard, who plays the therapist, explains: “Arthur hides behind the role of therapist. It’s his security blanket. His struggle is to let go of this idea of “perfect” and fully inhabit his messy, broken, and beautifully flawed self.”

Increasingly in sessions, Arthur’s concentration fails him. As patients expose their painful histories and traumas, memories of his own tormented childhood force him into an epic battle with despair.

“I woke up one morning to find a new word on my bedside table: pointlessness.
It’s thorns made me bleed.”

Arthur’s wife, Melody, also finds herself at a personal impasse. “She’s gotten older and lost what is important to her,” explains actress Hannah Jane Ginsberg, who also composed music for THE TALKING CURE, “Melody doesn’t recognize herself.”

Not every patient in THE TALKING CURE chooses to be in therapy. Lucy, nicknamed “Puno Por Manos” (Fists for Hands), is court mandated for treatment after she initiates an explosive bar fight that sends three men to the E.R.

“Thirty days at Riker’s or a shrink — some choice!” Lucy barks at Arthur.

Actress Aamira Martinez explains,“Lucy struggles with trust, especially with men. She always needs to be in control. She never learned to have intimate relationships.”

Failing relationships, broken hearts, and loneliness push two characters, Gil and Monica, into an adulterous affair. Gil, a lifelong womanizer, panics as he suddenly finds himself stalked and preyed upon by an infatuated Monica.

“Gil is terrified of Monica. She’s so unpredictable,’ explains Harry Barandes, who plays Gil.

Claire Buckingham, who plays Monica, notes, “Monica is desperate. Gil represents a time when she was happy; a time that she frantically wants to recapture.”

All characters in THE TALKING CURE find themselves in conflict with their impulses. Such is the case with Natalie, a pre-med student, who seeks help from Arthur after she becomes entangled in a forbidden relationship with a coworker.

“Cure me in ten sessions! I want to get rid of these feelings!”, she demands to Arthur.

Natalie, played by AhDream Smith, wrestles with a decision that will alter the course of her life. AhDream explains, “Natalie spent her whole life trying to please other people, living out other people’s dreams. Now she realizes she doesn’t know who she really is.”

Does therapy help? Do these characters find peace?

For tickets to THE TALKING CURE visit:

Written by Sean Grover, Directed by Alan Wynroth, Music by Hannah Jane Ginsberg

Hudson Guild Theater

  • January 26, Thursday, 9 pm
  • January 28, Saturday, 1 pm
  • January 29, Sunday, 6 pm

441 West 26th Street, New York, NY

*WinterFest Theater Festival runs from January 2 to March 12, 2017, presenting new plays and musicals submitted from playwrights throughout the U.S.
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