Thursday, September 27, 2012
Theatre review: Freud’s Last Session at Theatre Three
The play will shake your faith -- or lack thereof.
DALLAS "Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important."
-C. S. LEWIS, Christian Apologetics
"In the long run, nothing can withstand reason and experience, and the contradiction religion offers to both is palpable."
-SIGMUND FREUD, The Future of an Illusion
Freud’s Last Session is what Mark St. Germain imagines a meeting between two of the greatest critical thinkers of the early 20th century, the militant atheist Sigmund Freud and the evangelical Christian C. S. Lewis, could have been. In the play, Freud had written to Lewis, inviting him to a discussion. With the German invasion of Poland in September of 1939 periodically playing out over the radio, the two spar. Expertly delivered wit flies throughout the discussion, eliciting laughter from the audience, which the actors must patiently wait through. In the end, both men learn something about their own humanity and reach a better understanding of each other and their own beliefs.
The set is beautifully decorated. Intricate, detailed painting of hardwood floors lay under incredible Persian rugs. Antique furniture fills the space, creating a believable representation of Freud’s study. Incredible set decorations round out the design. Sculptures of gods, integral to the plot, and books adorn Freud’s study. For the observant, and appropriate given the characters, a prominently phallic Roman style painting hangs over the entrance. The scene is very comfortable and easy to get lost in, like being transported to the scene and being allowed to observe.
Rich Frohlich’s sound design is incredible. The radio broadcasts are ideally mixed recreations and the sudden onset of air sirens is so realistic they make one wonder if the sirens are in the play or a sudden storm has conjured outside and everyone in the theater must find cover.
Jac Alder personifies Sigmund Freud perfectly. After viewing Alder’s performance, picturing Freud acting any differently is near impossible. He shows no difficulty working with an Austrian accent, never slipping in pronunciation. His moves are deliberate, precise, and efficient as one would expect those of an 83 year-old man, like Freud, would be. And Alder’s presentation of discomfort from Freud’s oral prosthesis causes uncontrollable empathy in the audience, along with C. S. Lewis.
Keeping up with a masterful performance like Alder’s is daunting, but Cameron Cobb does so as naturally as snow floating to the ground. Cobb is amazing as the distinguished but jocular Oxford professor who, later in life, reasoned his way into Christianity. He proves to be as great a sparring partner for Alder as one can imagine Lewis would be for Freud. His timing of line deliveries for maximum impact and affecting high-class British mannerisms is the greatest artistic addition to the play, helping to immerse the audience into their world.
Theatre Three continues its tradition of excellence with Freud’s Last Session. The set, the performances, the sounds all come together creating a perfectly realistic world in front of the audience. Don’t be afraid to have your faith, or lack thereof, shaken and see Freud’s Last Session at Theatre Three.
Pegasus News Content partner - John Garcia's The Column
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