Review of the last session of Freud – the analyst and author of Narnia at loggerheads | Theater
give or take the Guardian’s Dining through the divisive feature, which these days has candid debates with their ideological opposites? This is what playwright Mark St Germain orchestrates in his 2010 play imagining an encounter, on the eve of war, between the arch-rationalist Sigmund Freud and the born-again Christian CS Lewis. Spoiler alert: they do not settle the question of the existence of God. But the only thing more futile than having the conversation, Freud argues – and I found this point oddly touching – would be not having the conversation at all.
So you have to invest in the idea of a civilized argument for argument’s sake – because that’s all you get with Freud’s Last Sitting. Why would God allow such pain in the world, asks Freud, a question sharpened by arbitrary deaths in his family and terminal oral cancer whose effects are horrifically portrayed here. “God wants to perfect us through suffering,” ventures Lewis, who – without having to be rational – has an absurd answer to everything.
The dialogue ranges from the couple’s sex life to the veracity of the New Testament, and is supported by a series of “touched” moments, when they catch each other in ideological fragility – sometimes triggered by news on Freud’s radio from l outbreak of World War II. I doubt this more or less familiar debate would hold anyone long if it wasn’t between the Freudian underpants guy and the lion, witch, and wardrobe guy. But director Peter Darney measures his beats with precision. And the incisive exchange of ideas between Séan Browne’s Lewis and Julian Bird’s ailing but indomitable Freud may itself restore your faith – if only in the virtues of cordial disagreement.