Pacific Theatre
Freud's Last Session by Mark St. Germain

Dates and Venue April 24 -May 30, 2015 at 8pm | Pacific Theatre, Hemlock & 12th

Director Morris Ertman Set Design Carolyn Rapanos Costume Design Catrina Jackson Sound Design Luke Ertman Lighting Design John Webber Stage Manager April Starr Land

Reviewer John Jane

Mark St. Germain’s speculative play Freud's Last Session is essentially a conversation between psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud (Ron Reed) and novelist and Christian philosopher C.S. Lewis (Evan Frayne). Set in London, England in September, 1939 on the very day that Britain and France declared war on Germany, the meeting took place as a result of Freud’s invitation to C.S. Lewis to discuss his recent essays in which he reasoned the existence of God.

While the circumstances surrounding the meeting are historically correct, it’s not likely that such a confrontation between the two men ever took place. Lewis, about 40 at the time, had recently converted from atheism to Christianity with his best work still ahead. Freud on the other hand, was near the end of both career and life being terminally ill with oral cancer.

St. Germain uses Freud’s illness and Lewis’s recent religious awakening to inject some tension and reciprocal respect into the drama. Dr. Freud and Professor Lewis (an Oxford don at the time) have been regarded as the twentieth century’s most intellectual thinkers, though with glaringly contrasting personalities. Freud is profoundly cynical, even of some of his own theories; Lewis is optimistic. Lewis enjoys listening to music, Freud doesn’t.

Their differences in opinion is no more predictably apparent than in a brief aside about sexuality. Lewis professes that people have become too preoccupied with sex for their own good, Freud, however contends sexual awareness starts at early infancy and its effect on human behavior is too important to ignore.

Director Morris Ertman wisely allows the two actors to determine the pace through the dialogue which at times becomes bellicose. Ron Reed and Evan Frayne each turn in believable performances, making the meeting between these brilliant minds at least plausible.

Carolyn Rapanos’s set is dominated by huge mythical angel wings that seem out of sync with the typical mid twentieth century furnishings of Freud’s well-ordered office.

Mark St. Germain doesn’t offer a definitive answer to divinity, or any conclusion to the existence of a hereafter. What the playwright does provide is excellent theatre.

© 2015 John Jane