BWW Review: FREUD'S LAST SESSION - A Brilliant Duet
Jarrott Production's FREUD'S LAST SESSION by Mark St.Germain, features two veteran actors at the top of their game. Currently playing at Trinity Street Theatre, the show centers on the father of modern psychoanalysis, Dr. Sigmund Freud (David R. Jarrott) who invites the dynamic Oxford Don C.S. Lewis (Tyler Jones) to his home in London. Set in 1939 England, the nation is poised on the of brink World War II, with this backdrop of historical events, Freud and Lewis discuss love, sex, the existence of God, the meaning of life and death with dignity.
Dr. Freud suffered from the painful, final stages of oral cancer, he had endured thirty- three operations and committed suicide shortly after the imaginary meeting the play creates in September of 1939. A little over a year before, Freud was forced to flee Europe in the wake of the Nazi invasion of his home in Austria and took refuge in London, where he continued his work. Having his books burned by Hitler's regime Freud said, "What progress we are making. In the Middle Ages they would have burned me. Now, they are content with burning my books." Sigmund Freud, born into the Jewish faith, became an avowed atheist, he believed that religion placated man's need for "wish-fulfillment". It is this physically broken man who wishes to meet the Oxford Don who has written a not so flattering caricature of the famous doctor in his book PILGRIM'S REGRESS.
C.S. Lewis, was the celebrated author of THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS and THE SPACE TRILOGY. Professor Lewis was a World War I veteran and literary colleague of J.R.R.Tolkien. He left his early Christian upbringing and become a staunch atheist only to rediscover his faith in a motorcycle sidecar during a ride to the zoo with his brother in 1931. Lewis' faith was at the center of his writing and his life.
FREUD'S LAST SESSION is a 'what if' account of a meeting that never happened, but should have. St. Germain's flowing dialogue captures the idiosyncratic characters perfectly, often using direct quotes from both famous men. The real magic in this productions come from Jarrott and Jones who bring these characters, warts and all, to vibrant life. Being a native Austinite, I grew up listening to David Jarrott on the radio. I remember his voice waking me up with his morning show on school days. His voice is as distinctive as ever, filled with passion, pain, and more than a little humor in his brilliant portrayal of Sigmund Freud. Playing the 83 year old psychoanalyst, Jarrott brings outstanding physicality to his acting, giving a touching performance of the great doctor in his tortured final days. Tyler Jones as Lewis is his equal in every way. Jones gives the author a heartfelt sincerity that reaches beyond the stage, capturing the audience and holding our rapt attention with ease. Both actors truly share the stage with each other and are very well matched. Full credit to Director Fritz Ketchum for making it all look so seamless and charming. Leslie Ann Turner's set is lush, beautiful and inviting. One wonders why a rug was used to cover a fainting couch on an otherwise perfect set, but the acting is so riveting that it is a momentary distraction.
It doesn't matter which side of the discussion you're on, FREUD'S LAST SESSION is extremely entertaining and thought provoking, an excellent evening at the theatre.
FREUD'S LAST SESSION by Mark St.Germain, Jarrott Productions playing at Trinity Street Theatre September 23 - October 18.
Running Time: 70 minutes with no intermission.
Tickets: $15 - $20 jarrottproductions.com