Freud’s Last Session is something to talk about
C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud have a lot to say in the Thunder River Theatre Company’s ongoing production, but there will still be plenty to talk about after the show.
In “Freud’s Last Session,” Mark St. Germain takes inspiration from an ambiguous note to imagine a meeting between the two on the eve of World War II.
“On an intellectual level, they recognize fairly quickly that they’re equals, which I think surprises Freud,” said Corey Simpson, who plays Lewis. “I think the audience will be on the edge of their seats wondering how they meet in the middle, just as they did in Bakersfield Mist.”
“There’s affirmation for both,” director Wendy Moore agreed.
It’s Moore’s second time directing the play, and her husband Bob also returns as Freud.
“I jumped at the idea of doing it again,” he said. “The piece is so beautifully written and offers such challenges. You get a chance to rediscover it and explore the character deeper.”
That doesn’t mean it’s a rehash of the first performance.
“It’s really reimagined,” Simpson said. “We don’t want to recreate what they did. It needs to be Thunder River’s production.”
The show runs weekends through March 12 with post show talkbacks on March 6 and 11.
Although the intellectual content ought to make for good conversation on its own, Wendy thinks the crux of the show is deeper.
“The humanity of these two is what’s interesting to me,” she said. “We can read about Freud and we can read about Lewis, but we don’t know who they were as people.”
That’s both a challenge and an opportunity as an actor — particularly with Freud, who committed suicide just a few weeks later and is far from well when the play takes place.
“I want the audience to recognize and feel the palpable pain that this man is experiencing,” Bob said.
Despite that and their differences, the characters manage to find some common ground.
It’s a play that concentrates on civil discourse, which I feel society is in jeopardy of losing,” Bob said. “How many times have they put words to those thoughts?”
“It’s so different from the rhetoric that we hear today,” Simpson agreed. “Lewis thought it was so important to find what we all share.”
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