How did you celebrate St. Patrick's Day?  We braved the crowds and streets awash in green beer to see Freud's Last Session at our favorite Mad Cow Theatre.  Once again I must be grateful to my husband who drags me to such things when I'd rather stay at home because my revision of Phoebe's Quilt is bumping up against its April deadline with an unthinkable* amount of work still remaining.

There are perhaps a thousand wrong ways to craft a play about a hypothetical meeting between Sigmund Freud and C. S. Lewis, but playwright Mark St. Germain achieved the impossible:  a show that is intellectually honest, fair, and respectful of both the character and the viewpoints of each man.  Similar respect, fairness, and honesty shone through the performances of Steven Lane (Lewis) and Terry Wells (Freud) under the direction of Mad Cow's Rick Stanley.  As it turns out, St. Germain's inspiration was Harvard professor Dr. Armand Nicholi's The Question of God, so if I'd only remembered my own blog post from six years ago, I wouldn't have been so surprised at the excellence.

After the performance we had a chance to ask questions of the director and the actors, and if there was one overwhelming impression I took home from the audience's response was their appreciation, tinged with astonishment, of an example of two people with strong, heartfelt, and opposing ideas engaging in discourse that is both substantive and respectful.  In truth, I was a bit shaken to realize that ordinary civility has become a thing at which to marvel.

You can see excerpts from the play at the official New York site.  I have to say that I liked the work of Lane and Wells better, though it's not fair to judge based on small clips.

Oh, and what does this have to do with St. Patrick's Day?  Well, C. S. Lewis was born in Ireland.  Not that St. Patrick himself was....


*I know, I know.  What that means is that I must think about it and follow Andy Flowers' dictum:  Good enough is better than perfect.  Genealogical research is as bad as computing when it comes to sucking up every available minute and more.  And when the genealogical research is being done on the computer—because I really can't afford to fly up to Boston or New York between now and April to delve in my favorite libraries—well, you get the picture.
Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, March 20, 2011 at 12:47 pm | Edit
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Those of you who know my normal demure demeanor will be surprised to know that I was the first person to ask a question at the talkback session. At various times throughout the show Freud's radio broadcasts music and news reports, and the piece of classical music (generic, not specific, sense) played at the end was one I did not recognize. I'm accustomed to the feeling of, "Oh, what's that work, I know it, I know it!" but not to total unfamiliarity. So I had to ask. That was certainly not the kind of question they were expecting, but they did manage to come up with the answer: Ballet of the Wood Creatures by Percy Whitlock.

Posted by SursumCorda on Sunday, March 27, 2011 at 10:46 am
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