Dr. Sigmund Freud was renowned for his wild theories and offbeat psychoanalysis. Conversely, C.S. Lewis gained esteem as a well-respected literary genius. Freud, an avowed atheist, rejected God's existence and called belief in the almighty a neurosis motivated by the "longing for a father." Lewis, on the other hand, embraced Jesus Christ wholeheartedly.
The two, in practically every sense, were polar opposites. Just imagine the sparks that would have flown had they interacted on some of life's most basic questions. Now, based on a popular stage play in multiple U.S. cities, you can actually see the epic clash unfold.
While there's no definitive evidence that the two ideological opponents ever interacted, a blockbuster play, "Freud's Last Session," documents the would-be conversation that could have unfolded had the two complex characters met. Recently, I went to see the play and was blown away by its tight-knit and hard-hitting dialogue. At moments in the production the banter is uncomfortable, yet pointed, as Freud and Lewis poke around for soft spots in one another's thought processes.
The setting of the play, too, adds to the pathos emitted by the character-driven storyline, as the faux conversation occurs on the very day that England entered World War II and just two weeks before Freud was to take his own life (the famed doctor committed suicide following a battle with cancer). The two characters, whose concocted, yet accurate-to-their-person words, feud throughout "Freud's Last Session" over God's existence, sex, love and the meaning of life.
On The Huffington Post, Robert Bullen provides a more detailed explanation of the show and its intent:
Lewis (Mark H. Dold), a devout Anglican, has been invited to Freud's London office for unknown reasons. Freud (Martin Rayner), who's suffering from the late-stage oral cancer which requires him to wear a nearly medieval mouth prosthesis, keeps him guessing, but soon the topic at hand becomes clear: how can a man as seemingly brilliant as Lewis believe in such an "insidious" lie as the existence of God? Lewis argues that it is indeed possible for an educated man to believe in science and also have faith.
While a tad contrived, [writer Mark] St. Germain's setup, which was inspired by Dr. Armand S. Nicholi Jr.'s 2003 book The Question of God, offers ample opportunity for these two brilliant and opposing minds to spar off in a game of theological showdown. Both sides of the argument are delivered with equal passion. Yet, Lewis, who's just beginning his ascent as an intellectual giant, comes out of the discussion relatively unscathed, while Freud, who's approaching his final weeks, seems worse for wear, though seemingly invigorated by the 1.5 hour debate.
Taking on history's most debated subject matter, "Lewis" and "Freud" brilliantly battle it out over questions surrounding a higher power and the origins of life. Theater-goers leave "Freud's Last Session" with plenty to ponder. Rather than serving as mere entertainment, the show requires those watching it to think through important societal arguments, while exploring their own opinions on matters pertaining to God and man.
The show, which premiered in New York City back in 2010, has continued to enjoy success -- so much so that the production has now opened in other cities across America. The original New York cast, featuring Dold and Rayner, has joined the Chicago, Illinois, production that recently opened.
The show also ran in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, from March 1 through April 1 and it is slated to run in numerous other cities throughout 2012, including: London, Madrid, Seattle, Orlando and Detroit, among other localities. Find out more about the production here.