“Psychopathia Sexualis” is West Chester’s latest production to hit the University stage written by John Patrick Sharley, directed by Bob E. Bytnar and starring Sean Melbaum, Tabitha Allen, Eric Scotolati, Erica Imparato, and Ian Potter. The play unfolds around the story of two friends named Arthur and Howard (played by Scotolati and Melbaum) who have a conversation in which Arthur discloses he is going to marry his girlfriend Lucille (Imparato) but is not sure he can go through with it because of a certain problem he has. After Howard asks him several times to confess what the problem entails, Arthur finally divulges his secret: he cannot marry Lucille without his father’s socks, which a certain psychiatrist named Dr. Block has taken from him and will not return them. Arthur needs these socks on or near him in order to have sex and implores Howard to get them back. This leads to many hilarious moments between Howard and Dr. Block. Howard, unfortunately, is not able to get the socks back because of the intimidating wit of Dr. Block and the task eventually falls to Arthur’s soon to be wife Lucille, who seems to be the only one “man” enough to take on the insane Dr. Block.
This plays offbeat story is just one of it’s very entertaining facets. The acting was terrific. Each cast member spoke and moved very naturally using each side of the stage to face all of the members of the audience. The acting never felt over the top or too wooden and every performance seemed to work very well. The most impressive performance was that of Ian Potter playing the crazy Dr. Block. From his crazy hair all the way down to his most eccentric mannerisms he did a very impressive job with the character.
Another really impressive aspect of the play was the way the scenes were set up. Each scene seemed to have very well laid out props. They seemed to use all of the props quite well, without anything at all seeming useless. Every prop was used effectively by the actors whether it was Dr. Block slamming a gavel or Howard drinking brandy from his glass.
The setups of the scenes were also fantastic. Scene designer Tom Haughney did a great job making everything look authentic. When Howard and Arthur are lounging by the fire the set looks believable and real. Sound directors Dana McAdams and Tom Haughey did an amazing job of backing up the actors with different sound effects further fleshing out the story such as a fire crackling while Howard and Arthur spoke in one of the first scenes.
The direction of “Psychopathia Sexualis,” by Bytnar was also outstanding. The play just simply flowed nicely from beginning to end. There seemed to be great communication between everyone in the play before each scene. The stage crew moved swiftly and quietly, the actors all knew their places, characters and movements, and the timing of music and lighting was always on key.
The only thing that seemed to be lacking in the play was the writing itself.
The story as a whole, while offbeat, was a very funny concept and the execution of the concept was well done but the jokes in the play seemed few and far between. At times the script just didn’t give the actors enough to work with. Besides Dr. Block the other characters felt rather flat and uninteresting. The story itself just didn’t drive home the odd situation all of the characters found themselves in leaving you wanting more.
“Psychopathia Sexualis” is still a good and entertaining play and was filled with skilled actors and solid production values.
Peter J. Smith is a fourth-year student majoring in english. He can be reached at PS683072@wcupa.edu