PULL UP A COUCH FOR "FREUD'S LAST SESSION"

BONNIE GOLDBERG

Have you ever imagined what it might be like if Madonna met with Cleopatra  to discuss fashions and image as they floated on a barge along the Nile? Have you contemplated having a night cap with Lincoln the night before he went to that fateful theater performance? Perhaps a martini with Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Kennedy is more your style.

If you ask playwright Mark St. Germain, he would confess that his fascination is with a pair of gentlemen of more weighty intellectual stature, famed psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud and literary giant C. S. Lewis. St. Germain has imagined a meeting between these two masters in their respective fields late in Freud's life, actually only weeks before Freud would commit suicide at the age of 83. The play "Freud's Last Session" will be setting up a comfortable couch at TheaterWorks of Hartford until Sunday, February 23 and you are invited to lie back and hear all the confessions.

C. S. Lewis, a competent, assured and dedicated Jonathan Crombie, has written a book that ridicules Freud's beliefs, especially as they relate to the existence of God in the universe. Lewis believes that Freud has summoned him to his home to chastise him for making Freud look like a cartoon character. In actuality, Freud has never read the treatise and really wants to confront Lewis for his newly proclaimed views of God's reality. C. S. Lewis is assured of God's existence as much as Kenneth Tigar's wonderfully outspoken and dramatically convincing Freud is positive God is a fantasy. He is the devout atheist to Lewis' newly proclaimed belief in his Christian faith. The two men engage in verbal fisticuffs as they each try to sway the other to their viewpoint. To Freud, the concept of God is irrelevant, a stand Lewis shared with him until his recent conversion.

The time is September 3, 1939 as England's entry into World War II looms ever closer, so near it will be declared that day, with snippets of radio announcements punctuating the somber mood by Chamberlain and King George. The men meet, at Freud's invitation, in his beautifully appointed study, designed by Evan Adamson, as hundreds of mythological god totems sit everywhere, welcoming revelations. On the top of their agenda perches God, but following close behind are questions about sex, love and the meaning of life. This is an intellectual debate with deep philosophical and thought provoking issues as Freud wants to learn why Lewis has changed his opinion to now believe.

C. S. Lewis was a poet, novelist and literary critic who wrote essays and studied theology and the medieval times. He would gain his greatest acclaim by penning "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe." While Freud, who was suffering mightily from oral cancer for the past seventeen years, enduring thirty surgeries, would take his own life mere weeks after their meeting, Lewis' death on November 23, 1963 was widely overshadowed by the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. A special commemoration of his death was celebrated on its fiftieth anniversary. Maxwell Williams directs this fictional play about two intensely real men and the meeting they might have had.

For tickets ($50- $65, seniors $35 at Saturday matinees), call TheaterWorks, 233 Pearl Street, Hartford at 860-527-7838 or online at www.theaterworkshartford.org. Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:30 p.m.

Enter the minds and hearts of two prominent men in England on the eve of England's entrance into World War II, and invite them to lie back on the couch for some revealing psychoanalysis and provoking conversation.

Posted 2.1.2014

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