Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Off Broadway: Freud's Last Session

Freud’s Last Session by Mark St. Germain, now playing at the Marjorie S. Deane Little Theater at 10 West 64th Street left me with a disappointing sense of déjà vu. Some months ago, I saw The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis at the Westside Theatre and commented then that although the acting, set design and language of that play were impressive, the play itself “vastly disappointed me on two levels: first, because it is not really a play at all but rather a Christian apologia…[with] little dramatic interaction…[and] second …[because] the substance of the play itself…[is]…rather superficial, glib and sophomoric” (see my post of May 26, 2010).

Much the same thing now can be said, I think, about Freud’s Last Session which, like The Screwtape Letters, is based in large part on the Christian philosophical-theological ideas of C. S. Lewis, in this case counterposed to the atheistic ideas of Sigmund Freud. The acting in this play by Mark H. Dodd (as C.S. Lewis) and Martin Raynor (as Sigmund Freud) is also first rate. The set is also handsome. And the language is also sharp and clever.

And yet, in the final analysis, this play, centering on an imagined meeting between Freud and Lewis shortly before Freud’s death, suffers from the same shortcomings as did The Screwtape Letters: there is little dramatic impact and the ideas expressed come across as more of what you’d be likely to hear at a college sophomore bull session than in a conversation between two men considered to have been intellectual giants.

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