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 Barnet: Three arrested as victim of fatal stabbing named
- 2 Spurs survive 'Lasagna-gate 2' and it's over to Arsenal
- 3 Man in his 30s stabbed to death
- 4 Covid-19: Hospital admissions and bed occupancy continue to fall
- 5 St John's Wood nursery 'requires improvement' after surprise Ofsted visit
- 6 West Hampstead woman's kids' clothes success story
- 7 Motorcyclist injured in Highgate Hill collision
- 8 Court: Disciplinary rules not followed in 'unfair' sacking, lawyer suggests
- 9 Hampstead pharmacy under investigation over extra charges for prescriptions
- 10 'The law isn't important to us': Car tyres deflated by activists in Camden
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.