Categories: Kristen Schweizer, THE BUZZ Tags: , , , , , Leave a comment

THE BUZZ: “Freud’s Last Session” @NorthCoastRep

Left Bruce Turk - Right Michael Santo

Freud’s Last Session – Eavesdropping on a One-Act Fantasy of Intellectual Wit

Article by Kristen N. Schweizer

There is a popular dinner party game, the host hypothetically asks, “If you could watch a conversation between any two historical figures, whom would you choose?”

Playwright Mark St. Germain answered that question with two gentlemen who could not be more different, and yet so similar. His play opens with a young CS Lewis, the British Mere Christianity and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe series author and Christian apologist, arriving for an in-home meeting at the request of Doctor Sigmund Freud, the atheist, Austrian neurologist well-regarded as the founding father of psychoanalysis.

Freud’s Last Session is set in London, 1939 – days after the Nazi invasion of Poland, thus the real time, one-act fantasy, has the raised stakes of impending war, complete with the air raid sirens.

Their 90 minute chat ranges over the expected topics: human fear and its place within faith, the war, anti-Semitism, the purpose of myth in modern society, sex, and (of course) the existence of God. Few debate points resonate as new if the audience member is at all familiar with the writings of either men, but to hear them buoyed by prickly, intellectual wit it became an enjoyable no-resolution discussion to eavesdrop upon.

What transforms the debate into a theatrical pleasure is Freud’s eternal deadpan, and Lewis’s trademark unflappability, both captured in the excellence of acting. Michael Santo (Freud) and Bruce Turk (Lewis) maintain a respectful, authentic chemistry throughout vulnerable and prickly scenes; hats off to North Coast REP Artistic Director David Ellenstein for excellence in casting, giving life and human vulnerability to heady dialogue.

The third character of the show is not Freud’s every ringing phone, but instead the office itself. A purposeful and well-researched scenic design by Marty Burnett, dressed with equal intention by prop master Benjamin Cole set the mood. (Freud’s desk is strategically cluttered with religious statuettes, he quips that it is a collection of “dead religions”.)

The devil (if Freud allows him to exist) is in the details. The North Coast Repertory Theatre kept a watchful eye on those details, producing a debate worth playing.

“Freud’s Last Session”, directed by David Ellenstein
When: 7 p.m. Wednesdays; 8 p.m. Thursdays; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays; 2 and 7 p.m. Sundays. Through November 9, 2014.
Where: North Coast Repertory Theatre, 987 Lomas Santa Fe Drive, Solana Beach.
Tickets: $41-$48 (discounts available)
Phone: (858) 481-­1055

Vanguard Culture

Vanguard Culture is an online media entity designed for culturally savvy, socially conscious individuals. We provide original interviews and reviews of the people, places, and events that make up San Diego’s thriving arts and culture community, as well as curated snapshots of the week’s best, most inspiring and unique cultural and culinary events. We believe in making a difference in the world, supporting San Diego’s vibrant visual and performing arts community and bringing awareness to important social and community causes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *