Freud's Last Session with Martyn Stanbridge and Martin Rayne (Photo - Enci Box).

      Freud’s Last Session with Martyn Stanbridge and Martin Rayne (Photo – Enci Box).

      Playwright Mark St. Germain’s off-Broadway hit is a quite lively, brain-teasing, and humorous imagining of a conversation and witty debate between the “father of psychoanalysis,” Dr. Sigmund Freud (Martin Rayner), and C.S. Lewis (Martyn Stanbridge), the high-powered atheist-to-Christian Oxford professor who wrote “The Chronicles of Narnia” in the 1950’s.

      By Carol Edger Germain

      The meeting takes place in September 1939 at Freud’s home in London on the day England enters WWII (Freud and Lewis intermittently put their ideological sparring on hold for a few moments to check the radio for the latest reports), and just a few weeks before Freud’s suicide.

      Pete Hickok’s design of Freud’s comfortable, welcoming study was brilliantly rendered, and the intimacy of the small theater made the audience into excited flies on the wall, hanging on every word. Hickok had access to photos of Freud’s actual space, and knowing we were viewing the study with historical accuracy made it even more intriguing. I wanted to examine up close the sculptures on his desk, representing a selection from his vast collection of Greek, Egyptian, Chinese, Roman and near Eastern antiquities.

      …get your
      ticket soon

      The premise of the play was intriguing on its face, of course – Freud and Lewis basically debating the existence of God, but could it be brought beyond a classroom study of beliefs and ideas and hold the audience’s attention? Robert Mandel’s precise, rhythmic direction and St. Germain’s brilliantly imagined dialogue, and the perfectly cast intellectual duo, ensured that the premise was realized for the maximum pleasure, intrigue, and intellectual stimulation of the audience. This was by no means a textbook back-and-forth, tit-for-tat exchange, and by no means dry. There were lots of chuckles along the way, the rhythm never lulled, I wanted more when the play ended. There was much influence from outside forces – Freud’s misbehaving dog, for example (apparently Freud’s insight into the mind did not include the minds of beings on four legs); also, Freud’s advanced oral cancer and the ill-fitting prosthesis, which caused additional pain, bleeding, and a slight interference with his speech, provided a few purely physical moments where the verbal boxing was brought to a halt and the audience was physically uncomfortable in response to Freud’s discomfort.

      Christopher Moscatiello’s sound design was spot on as well. The authentic ringing of the antique phone, the crackling radio, the jarring air raid sirens. Even as the sirens intrude on this non-meeting of the minds, neither participant retreats fully into his beliefs, and they continue their dance, although Lewis asserts himself more. The play ends with the radio broadcast becoming louder and clearer as it broadcasts.the announcement that England has declared war on Germany.

      I cannot find a single flaw or shortcoming in this delicious production, and recommend that you get your ticket soon!

      Freud’s Last Session
      • Written by Mark St. Germain
      • Directed by Robert Mandel
      • Starring Martin Rayner, Martyn Stanbridge, and Paul Gregory
      Odyssey Theatre
      2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90025

      • Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 8 p.m. Feb. 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 16, 17, 21, 23, 24, March 1, 2, 3
      Sundays at 2 p.m. February 4, 11, 18, 25, March 4.
      *The third Friday of every month is wine night at the Odyssey: enjoy complimentary wine and snacks and
      mingle with the cast after the show.
      **Post-show discussions on Sun. Feb. 11
      • General admission: $30-$35
      “Tix fo $10” on 2-2 and 3-1. Discounted tickets available for seniors, students and patrons under 30. (Discount also available @ goldstar.com).
      Purchase tickets here.

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