Tuesday August 22nd 2017

“Freud’s Last Session” Chicago style

They say that “love is better the second time around”! Well, when it comes to “Freud’s Last Session” now on stage at The Mercury Theater, as superb and spellbinding as the New York castwas, the Chicago replacements, make this production even stronger. In fact, even if you saw the original production, you might want to make another viewing a top priority when it comes to your theater planning. Mark St. Germain’s tale of the meeting between Sigmund Freud ( now played to perfection by Chicago theater “icon” Mike Nussbaum) and C.S. Lewis ( deftly handled by Coburn Goss, who has all the charm and works well with Nussbaum) during a period of ill times in London- it is 1939 on the very day that England is about to become a part of World War II.

This gentle clash of ideas, dealing with  the existence of God, love, sex an dthe meaning of life ( suggested by the book “The Question of God” by Dr. Armand M. Nicholi, Jr.) may all be fiction, but could be what a meeting between these scholars could have been. In this extraordinary production, we have two fine actors bringing us real men in a meeting where Sinclair  thought he was being called “on the carpet” for satirizing Freud, but soon finds out that this is not the intent of this brilliant psychoanalyst. They debate all the issues that man has faced for years ( and will continue to) in a manner that is filled with humor as well a sthought provoking issues. Freud, faced with death by the cancer that ha splagued him, tells Lewis that he rady to die and would rather do so sooner than later. This is one of the more meaningful discussions between the two men who sort of play a chess game throughout the 100 minutes ( no intermission), each trying to outdo the other when it comes to ideology on these topics.           

As strong as I felt the original production was, I found this to be far better and to be honest, watching Nussbaum on any stage any time is a treat for theater-goers. If you have anyone interested in pursuing a career in theater, make sure they get to see this production. It is like taking a course in acting just to watch him work. Goss is no shirker either. Except for his costume, which was a bit small and became distracting in the beginning, he holds his own with Nussbaum. After awhile, the short tight jacket was lost due to his amazing portrayal of the young voice in the world. The set(Brian Prather) and the lighting(Clifton Taylor) as well as the sound (Beth Lake) and direction(Tyler Marchant) remain as tight as they were in the original production, but it is the cast, two brilliant performers who make this the shortest 100 minutes of theater you will ever see. In fact, there were people in the audience who wanted even more! That says a lot about a production.

You now have until  July 15th to have your chance to see one of the best productions you will see this  year, with performances as follows:

Wednesdays at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.,Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.,Fridays at 8 p.m.,Saturdays at 2 and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 1 and 5 p.m.

Tickets range from $45 to $59 with student tickets available at $22 ( with valid ID) and can be puchased at the theater box office ,3745 N. Southport, by phone at 773-325-1700 or online at www.mercurytheaterchicago.com

Appropriate for ages 13 and up. To learn more, visit www.FreudsLastSession.com

The Mercury Theater has undergone some changes- a luxurious lobby that sports some bathrooms and is now flanked by two restaurants, both with great menus and outdoor dining ( weather permitting) Parking can be a bit tough ( in particular if the Cubbies are in town) but valet parking is available and public transportation is not that far away. Don’t let that get in your way. This is a MUST SEE!


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