Muswell Hill psychotherapist’s dramatic new take on Freud - in his own Hampstead museum
A Muswell Hill psychotherapist’s analytical gaze will be turned on Freud himself in a play imagining the father of psychoanalysis on his deathbed.
Stephen Gross, of Barnard Hill, has Shakespeare, Hamlet and Freud’s father appear before the dying psychoanalyst to confront him about his life and work, in his debut play Freud’s Night Visitors.
Mr Gross, 67, has also gone straight to the source for his play, debuting it at the Freud Museum itself.
As a psychotherapist, Mr Gross is reluctant to attribute a single motivation to penning the drama, but says the idea stemmed from his career-long interest in Freud and literature.
“It started life as an article I wrote from Hamlet’s perspective, telling Freud he got the interpretation wrong,” said Gross. “But when a friend pointed out that Freud should also be given a voice, I got the idea of developing it into a play.”
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The drama centres on troubled father-son relationships, one of Freud’s main interests. It takes inspiration from theories that Freud saw Shakespeare as a difficult paternal figure, whom he first accepted as the prolific playwright but whose identity he later questioned.
Climaxing with Hamlet accusing Freud of treating him like a patient - the psychoanalyst theorised that Hamlet’s delay in avenging his father’s murder could be explained by the Oedipal Complex - the three ‘night visitors’ each challenge Freud and eventually reconcile with him through conflicted exchanges.
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Gross, who was a social worker before qualifying in psychotherapy nearly 30 years ago, puts his career choices down to a lifelong interest in human motivations, behaviours and actions. And his first foray into drama may spell a future as a playwright - but Gross is cautious not to promise more plays, saying it will depend on how this one is received by audiences.
- Freud’s Night Visitors will be performed at the Freud Museum, Maresfield Gardens, Hampstead, on Tuesday, December 4, at 7pm, followed by a question and answer session.