BWW Reviews: FREUD'S LAST SESSION in Stratford
No one knows for sure if the two legendary figures did meet at Freud's home about two weeks before Freud's assisted suicide. The play, which is based on the book, The Question of G-d by Dr. Armand M. Nicholi, Jr., explores the possibility of such a meeting. At this time, Freud was 83, at the end of his distinguished career, an immigrant who fled Austria after the Anschluss by Nazi Germany, and suffering from inoperable cancer, and Lewis was a professor at Oxford and his literary career was just taking off. The premise is that Freud inviTed Lewis to his officE. Lewis accepted, even though he thought he would be called to the carpet for having satirized Freud in a book. That was not on Freud's agenda. "I want to learn why a man of your intellect, one who shared my convictions, could suddenly abandon truth and embrace an insidious lie," he explained, referring to Lewis' becoming a devout Christian.
It is on this track that St. Germain masterfully weaves the characters' biographies and clashing opinions on faith, truth, joy, sex, life, death, suffering, and secular and biblical history and literature. Actors Al Kulcsar (as Freud) and Gabriel Morrow (as Lewis) deliver the intelligent and meaty dialogue with perfection and plausibility. Their accents are credible. Kulcsar's every motion - and stillness - are credible, underscoring the line, "I always consider what people tell me less important than what they cannot."
Another gem in this production is Kulcsar's scenery. Apparently, Freud had a vast collection of ancient sacred items, some of which he used to decorate his office. It's ironic because Freud was an atheist, and so much of the dialogue in this play is about G-d and religion and what people believe. One area of Kulscar's scenery is a psychiatrist's couch. In the beginning, Freud steers Lewis from it, but Lewis turns the tables and guess who ends up on the couch? How clever a table turner is that, along with Lewis's line, "The wish that G-d doesn't exist can be just as powerful as the belief He does?"
The play is not something that only for intellectuals and theatre snobs. It is thought provoking and enlightening. Whoever thought that Freud could be so human - angry with people who rely on religion and furious at being terminally ill? Or that Lewis had an unusual relationship with the mother of a fellow soldier and was a good friend of J.R.R. Tolkien? It is immaterial whether or not the meeting actually took place, but you will leave convinced that it did. Warning: you will want to see this play again, and it is only running through November 16 at Square One Theatre Company, 2422 Main Street in Stratford. 203-375-8778. www.squareonetheatre.com