Freud's Last Session: King's Head Theatre *****
- Credit: Alex Brenner
Director Peter Darney’s production at the King's Head is the European premier of Mark St Germain’s intense and challenging play.
The action takes place in Freud’s Hampstead study - complete with that couch - where C S Lewis visits expecting to be upbraided for his satire of the great psychoanalyst.
The day of his visit is also the day Chamberlain declares war on Germany and Freud of course is a recent refugee from Vienna who abhors the Nazis. He is also suffering from soon to be terminal oral cancer that forces him to wear a prosthetic palate.
Their explosive meeting pits Freud's atheism against Lewis' recent conversion to Christianity. The Oxford Don has a fervent and unshakable belief in God and God’s goodness and holds the resurrection of Christ as the most important event in human history.
Freud is nevertheless intrigued by religion, asking: “Why has an intelligent man abandoned truth and embraced an insidious lie?”
Over 85 minutes, St Germain, Darney and a strong cast, deliver one of the great philosophical stage conversations. Freud and Lewis spar, test, chide and lay syllogistic traps for each other. They name drop on an industrial scale as they discuss morality, the nature of God, families, logic, war, sex, reality, myth and … farting!
Despite mutual respect and even affection there are moments of passion when they tear into each other; frailties and inconsistences are coldly exposed and condemned. Sean Brown offers an intellectual, thoughtful, even joyous Lewis whose terrible WWI experiences remain near the surface.
- 1 VOTE: Which north London fish and chip shop is your favourite?
- 2 Major tube strike to follow Queen's Platinum Jubilee long weekend
- 3 The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee flypast: Where, and when, the planes will fly over north and east London
- 4 Can you answer these 10 GCSE questions designed for 16-year-olds?
- 5 Missing: 29-year-old Islington woman found 'safe and well'
- 6 Elizabeth Line opens: Londoners enjoy first day of service
- 7 'Wrong place, wrong time': Men convicted after fatal mistaken revenge shooting
- 8 Covid: Slight rise in admissions but fewer patients in hospital overall
- 9 Floating park between Camden Town and King's Cross
- 10 Jailed: Members of 'sophisticated' drugs crime gang sentenced
Dapper and precise in brown tweeds, Julian Bird's Freud is urbane, shot through with cynicism and intellectual curiosity and terrified of his impending death. He was clearly exhausted at the end of this sensational and compelling work. Brown put a comforting hand on his shoulder and led him from the stage to rapturous applause from a deeply appreciative audience.
It’s only January, but this could be the play of 2022!
Until February 12.