Thursday, April 30, 2015

Freud's Last Session, a play by Mark St. Germain

Freud’s Last Session, a play by Mark St. Germain is showing at Pacific Theatre, April 24 to May 30, 12th and Hemlock, Vancouver.  We loved it.  I am a psychiatrist so that made the play a must see. Anything with Freud is required viewing by our ilk.  What made it especially a treat was that it was really a discussion and debate between CS Lewis, the Christian theologian and S. Freud, atheist psychoanalyst.  Just hearing the writing of Mark St. Germain as it touched on the key issues of the 20th century, sex,  suffering, war, life after death, biology, destiny, was so refreshing.  I read the discussions of even 50 years ago and realize that as reality television talk show video game society we have collectively lost the level of communication that was normative one time when people actually relied on discussion as communication.
The play is situated within an amazing set thanks to Carolyn Rapanos.  Ewayne Frayne played CS Lewis and Ron Reed played Freud.  If ever you've imagined  historical characters, you can appreciate how enjoyable it is when they come alive for you so you forget it’s a play and forget they are actors.  That’s what this was like. Frayne and Reed made both great men come alive and as well made them acutely human and terribly real.  Mark St. Germain’s writing has a wisdom and compassion that leaves one appreciating both antagonists as equal and together.  There is none of the simplistic reductionism so common today. None of the comic book writing.  It’s that real and human. Director Morris Ertman brought out the very best in the play and these amazing actors.
I left feeling better about life,  enriched and uplifted.  I was even thankful to be a psychiatrist and even more thankful to be a Christian.  Sigmund Freud and CS Lewis have contributed so much to my understanding of life.  I had gone to the play with friends and we talked about the play long after it was over.
The intermittent playing of the old radio on the set,  with news of Hitler and invasion of Poland,  was a poignant touch that grounded the actors discussion in the stark reality of that time.   Gas masks  and air raid sirens punctuated the play.   I personally can be so complacent in Canada forgetting that much of the ideologies I’ve learned from were crafted in a fiery cauldron.  These men weren’t like intellectual activists today. They were struggling with life and facing death coming to conclusions which not surprisingly have outlived them.
A truly remarkable play.  I’m so thankful that Pacific Theatre chose this pearl for the last of their season.
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