By Barbara Dills
Sopris Sun Correspondent
Bob Moore is a treat to see in any role, but you definitely won’t want to miss him as the famous — and infamous — Dr. Sigmund Freud. Recently lauded for his portrayal of Tevya in the Defiance Community Players’ production of “Fiddler on the Roof,” he’s now starring alongside Associate Artistic Director Corey Simpson in Thunder River Theatre Company’s (TRTC’s) current production of “Freud’s Last Session.” The play runs for the next two weekends, through March 12.
“Freud” is a furious, smartly funny, exploration of an extended afternoon conversation between Dr. Freud and the writer and scholar C. S. Lewis, himself best known (by parents at least) for his “Chronicles of Narnia” series of fantasy novels. “Freud” playwright Mark St. Germain was inspired by the bestselling book “The Question of God” to imagine what might have transpired had these two men ever met.
The play is set in Freud’s London study on Sept. 3, 1939, the day Britain declared war on Germany. Freud was 83 at that time and suffering from terminal cancer; Lewis was just 40. The action on stage often — and, thanks especially to Moore, energetically — revolves around the God question. (Once a devout atheist, Lewis’ conversion experience at age 32 turned him into a vocal Christian apologist; Freud saw such faith as an expression of infantile needs and fantasies.) The backdrop and gravity of the history unfolding simultaneously in the world outside Freud’s study adds extra weight and poignancy to their onstage debate.
St. Germain’s script is full of stunning and insightful one-liners, most of them delivered by Freud, and they carry this one-act play, whose pace never lags. But the more taciturn Lewis also has his moments, such as when Freud turns the conversation toward a probing of the younger man’s childhood and Lewis quips, pointing to the couch, “There’s no avoiding this, is there?”
Thunder River Theatre Company has staged this play in the round, which creates interesting challenges for audience and actors alike. Moore and Simpson pull it off well, though Simpson’s Lewis at times seemed overly stiff on opening night, which might in part be a result of the 360 degree staging. Despite the technical and artistic challenges, the device succeeds in creating the intimate setting befitting a play about love, sex, the existence of God, and the inevitability of death.
The newest member of the company, resident light and sound designer Sean Jeffries, is the technical director for this play. He has done a fine job with “Freud” and is a welcome addition to the talented TRTC crew.
The play is directed by Wendy Moore, who also directed her husband in “Fiddler.” The Moores were recently named True West Award winners by longtime Denver theatre journalist John Moore (no relation) for the impact they have had on Colorado theatre. “Freud’s Last Session” is further testament to their contribution. Don’t miss it.
“Freud’s Last Session” continues March 4-6, and March 10-12. Post-show talkbacks with the cast and director will be held March 3 and March 11. Tickets can be purchased online at www.thunderrivertheatre.com or by calling 970-963-8200.
Published in The Sopris Sun on March 3, 2016.