by Terry Johnson.
Tour to 8 September 2012.
Runs 2hr 35min One interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 21 August at Richmond Theatre.
A dream of a production.
It’s a dark and stormy night, if not of the soul then the psyche for Dr Sigmund Freud. For it’s 1939, he’s slowly dying, while his Jewish relatives remain in Nazi Germany because of his delayed departure. And an old case comes back to haunt him.
It s so late in this dark night it’s almost early morning and not at all a time for farce. Yet that’s what writer Terry Johnson often creates here – hysterical laughter as Freud tries to conceal a wild, self-disrobing young woman from his respectable Jewish doctor friend Yahuda, who would like nothing better than some leverage to stop Sigmund publishing an insensitively-timed paper arguing Moses was Egyptian.
Just the moment to bring on self-obsessed Salvador Dali, whose Surrealist claims Freud debunks, just as young Jessica ward-off his amorous advance on her in the water-closet. Having had her repeated threats to run around naked evidenced only by her discarded clothes, Johnson eventual brings on a separate naked figment, during a theatrical climax that’s Daliesque and Freudian, comic and horrific.
Johnson’s an experienced director and is ideal here, balancing the serious humour with deeper undercurrents: Freud’s fears and the way his experiences might have compromised his theories. He’s certainly cast his revival brilliantly. Antony Sher’s ability to infuse a role with energy, passion and humour charts Freud’s instant reactions to the surprising events around and deeper reflections on his past writings, while David Horovitch as the one character for whom normality remains the norm has a firm common-sense in his response to each development.
Indira Varma brings apt determination and lightness to her mysteriously arriving yet determined daughter of a Freudian case-history, while Will Keen has a splendid way with Dali’s cocksure self-confidence, something unknockable even by direct insult and liable to burst out in quick snatches after a moment or two’s thought-processing.
Lez Brotherston’s set combines the realism of Freud’s Hampstead consulting-room with a sense of dark oppression – it caters to the quick farce and the brooding conscience, as well as opening up to the ghastly late revelation of a politically and psychologically distorted world.
Sigmund Freud: Antony Sher.
Yahuda: David Horovitch.
Jessica: Indira Varma.
Salvador Dali: Will Keen.
Voice of Anna: Amalia Vitale.
Figments: Andrea Karras, Sam Kordbacheh, Amalia Vitale, Alex B, Bernie Barrett, Angela Plater.
Director: Terry Johnson.
Designer: Lez Brotherston.
Lighting: Paul Pyant.
Sound: Gareth Owen.
Composer: Colin Towns.
Movement: Ann Yee.
Dialect coach: Penny Dyer.
Assistant director: Katie Lewis.