Faith vs Logic: War of Ideologies Expertly Waged in Freud’s Last Session

Does God exist?

This question has confounded mankind for generations and the continuing debate blossoms wonderfully in the drama, Freud’s Last Session currently playing at the Omaha Community Playhouse.

It is 1939 on the eve of World War II and Sigmund Freud (Bernie Clark), the father of psychoanalysis, has a visitor, C.S. Lewis (Nick Zadina), author of the Chronicles of Narnia.  Freud is a militant atheist and Lewis was known as the Apostle to the Skeptics and their discussion of this topic is the thrust of this play.

On the face of it, it may seem like a rather dry subject, but author, Mark St Germain, has crafted a wry, crackling debate which is only further enhanced by the stellar acting from Clark and Zadina.

As Freud, Bernie Clark sparkles as Sigmund Freud.  Aside from being nearly a dead ringer for the real Freud, Clark does an astounding job at portraying Freud’s analytical nature, logical intelligence, and his suffering.  This play occurs near the end of Freud’s life where he suffered from oral cancer and Clark absolutely nails the horrific pain Freud must have undergone with constant coughing, gravelly voice, and a scene near the end where Freud desperately tries to remove his painful prosthetic tugs at the heartstrings.

Nick Zadina is equally up to the challenge as C.S. Lewis.  Presenting Lewis as an affable professor (diametrically opposite from the gruff Freud), Zadina is up for the thrust and parry of his intellectual duel with the psychoanalyst as he is able to construct logical arguments of his own which soundly deflect the relentless logic of Freud.

Despite the fact that neither character can see eye to eye on this particular topic, both actors do an outstanding job of presenting the debate as a mere difference of opinion between two professionals.  Both men staunchly defend their ground, yet have a deep respect, even friendship, with each other during moments such as an air raid siren blaring through the night sky or when Lewis aids Freud in removing his prosthetic.

Not that the play is completely without flaw.  The play is a bit static, but is livened by the direction of Kevin Lawler who has helped his actors find the perfect beats which keeps the play moving and interesting, in spite of the minimal movement.  At this performance there was also a little bobbling of lines, stepping on cues, and a moment where one actor may have gone up on his lines.  But this did not distract from the epic storytelling.

“One of us is a fool,” says Freud near the end of the play.  But I disagree.  What we have are 2 excellent representatives for the debate of the existence of God and a play that will entertain you as well as make you think.

Freud’s Last Session continues until Nov 17 in the Howard Drew Theatre at the Omaha Community Playhouse located at 6915 Cass St.  Performances run Thurs-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm.  Ticket prices are $35 ($21 for students).  Reservations can be made at 402-553-0800.