Produced by Clock & Spiel, this play by Mark St Germain is a very clever and funny account of the fictional meeting of two not so like-minded people. It is the eve of Britain going to war again, after Hitler has invaded Poland. C S Lewis and Freud meet to chat, they are in Freud’s consulting rooms in London talking about a host of things, but predominantly the futility (or not) of believing in God.
The play is an economical 75 minutes, and the actors beguile with excellent performances. Yannick Lawry plays the terribly British Lewis and Nicholas Papademetriou the famed Austrian father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud. Their two worlds collide under the shadow of death as the air raid siren wails during their meeting, signaling panic and potential doom. Freud’s cancer is advanced and so for him death is almost constantly on his mind. No better time then, to talk of the mysteries of the universe.
Lawry is deft as Lewis, his respect of Freud’s work is apparent yet he delves into his own belief system vigorously, not allowing Freud’s contempt to sway him. Papademetriou is at his best here: he plays Freud with meticulous detail from the Austrian accent to the physical tics that abound from the painful mouth cancer that he suffers from.
Set design by Tyler Rae Hawkins was superb with the office including the famous chaise lounge that is a staple of the psychotherapist’s room. No sound but the odd radio announcement after the air raid siren spooks the men, followed by music that Freud always snaps off. We hear the evocative speech by King George warning of war, a reminder to Freud at the conclusion of the country’s blind faith in God.
Papademetriou as Freud astutely points out: it is not what we say that speaks volumes but that which we cannot speak of that does. What also speaks volumes is that though not himself a believer, Freud’s office desk is littered with statues of various gods: Indian, Egyptian and Greek. The doctor’s favourite is telling: Eros, the God of Sensual Love and Desire, as Freud’s contention was that most human behaviour is a manifestation of unconscious desire.
Hailey McQueen directs with precision and though the primary debate of the two men remains unresolved, their actions provide insight. When the air raid siren goes off, they are both frightened of what is yet to come. So belief or no belief, we are all united when it comes to impending death, no matter how eloquent we may seem up until that point.
Freud’s Last Session is on until 10 November at the Seymour Centre, for more information and tickets see: https://www.seymourcentre.com/events/event/freuds-last-session/
Director: Hailey McQueen
Featuring: Nicholas Papademetriou and Yannick Lawry