"Cerebral," and "thought-provoking" are two words that come to mind when watching "Freud's Last Session."
The play, which opened Feb. 28 at Actors' Summit Theatre, features historical figures C.S. Lewis (played by Keith Stevens) and Sigmund Freud (played by Brian Zoldessy). Freud, who is in the twilight of his life, has invited the younger Lewis to his study for a talk. Primarily, Freud, a staunch atheist, is curious about Lewis's recent conversion to Christianity. What results is a battle of two keen 20th century minds, from men who seem to be very different. Both, for example, had uneasy relationships with their fathers, and both bear the scars from World War I (The Great War), which surface at the brink of World War II. The play is very well balanced between the men's opinions, and during the course of their talks, the two men come to respect each other's views.
Stevens, a Sagamore Hills resident, said that a meeting between the two may have taken place.
"There is a note from his journals, and all it says is that he 'met with an Oxford don,'" Stevens said. "But there's nothing more. There's a bit of creative license here because of their polarity and contrasting beliefs."
Finding out about Lewis and rereading the books Lewis had written (which include The Screwtape Letters and The Chronicles of Narnia, which had not been written at the time the play is set) was fascinating.
"He was translating Greek classics at age 10," Stevens said. "He was doing things I couldn't touch with a 10 foot pole."
The opening night audience seemed to enjoy the show.
"I thought the characters were really believable," said Brad Bolton of Twin Lakes. "I was really drawn to the characters, their lives and how they reacted to each other."
Joel Slater of Kent, who said he has read several books that Freud has written, agreed.
"I thought it was a great play," Slater said. "I thought they presented both men in a sympathetic light, as decent human beings who could disagree but could still respect each other. They show compassion to each other. It also deals with the perennial questions, like God's existence."
Director Neil Thackaberry said the play "is a very difficult show that can't be done without two remarkably talented actors."
"You have to be careful with a play that is mostly focused on ideas, that it doesn't turn into a shouting match," Thackaberry said. "Both Keith and Brian worked very hard and did a great job."
Ticket and show information
"Freud's Last Session" runs through March 17.
Individual ticket prices are $19 at the preview on Feb. 28 and the Saturday matinee on March 9. On Thursdays and Sundays adults are $28 and seniors over 65 are $25. Opening night March 1 and all Saturdays are $30. Fridays are $28. All full-time students with ID can attend any performance for $9. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday performances are at 8 p.m. Sunday matinees are at 2 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.actorssummit.org, or by phone at 330-374-7568.
The theater is on the sixth floor of historic Greystone Hall in downtown Akron. The facility features barrier free access, free parking, and full bar service.
Next on stage
Actors' Summit will next produce "Motherhood Out Loud" from April 4 through 21.