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Live theater. Unsolicited commentary.
From Detroit to Lansing.

Carolyn Hayes is the Rogue Critic, est. late 2009.

In 2011, the Rogue attended 155 plays, readings, and festivals (about 3 per week) and penned 115 reviews (about 2.2 per week).

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Theaters and Companies

The Abreact (Detroit)
website | reviews | 2011 SIR

The AKT Theatre Project (Wyandotte)
website | reviews

Blackbird Theatre (Ann Arbor)
website | reviews | 2010 SIR

Detroit Repertory Theatre (Detroit)
website | reviews

The Encore Musical Theatre Co. (Dexter)
website | reviews

Go Comedy! (Ferndale)
website | reviews

Hilberry Theatre (Detroit)
website | reviews | 2010 SIR

Jewish Ensemble Theatre (West Bloomfield)
website | reviews

Magenta Giraffe Theatre Co. (Detroit)
website | reviews | 2010 SIR

Matrix Theatre (Detroit)
website | reviews | 2010 SIR

Meadow Brook Theatre (Rochester)
website | reviews

Performance Network Theatre (Ann Arbor)
website | reviews

Planet Ant Theatre (Hamtramck)
website | reviews

Plowshares Theatre (Detroit)
website | reviews

Purple Rose Theatre Co. (Chelsea)
website | reviews

The Ringwald Theatre (Ferndale)
website | reviews

Tipping Point Theatre (Northville)
website | reviews | 2010 SIR

Threefold Productions (Ypsilanti)
website | reviews

Two Muses Theatre (West Bloomfield Township)
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Williamston Theatre (Williamston)
website | reviews







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Freud's Last Session

Playwright Mark St. Germain’s lofty Freud’s Last Session delivers on its promise of an academic clash of the literary-analytic-scientific titans. Indeed, the Century Theatre’s production, directed by Tyler Marchant, crackles with discourse on matters religious and ethical. Underneath its idealized principles, however, the play ultimately succeeds by virtue of its vulnerable human realities, explored deftly by two passionately respectful performances.

Under warplane-crossed London skies in September 1939, C.S. Lewis (Cory Krebsbach) answers a summons for an audience with venerated Sigmund Freud (Mitch Greenberg); although this is their first meeting, each man is aware of the other’s work and principles, and they could not seem more different. The young novelist has not yet written the fantasy series for which he will be best known; the neuroscientist is near death of a belligerent oral cancer that plagues his thoughts and faculties. Any awkwardness stemming from the fact that the former skewered the latter in his first novel is addressed and dispatched. No, what the doctor wants to know is how such intelligence and such pure faith can coexist in one person, when his calculating mind knows better than to believe in a higher power.

Although the men’s conversation is largely uninterrupted by other people, the outside world makes itself known, both invited in the form of a radio broadcast and unwelcome in the form of insistent air raid sirens: England is declaring war on Germany. Sound design by Beth Lake is exceptional in evoking a state of emergency and the helplessness therein; so too does Eric W. Maher’s pooled, lamp-focused lighting design provide little comfort against an unseen enemy. Even Brian Prather’s cozy-study set design hold some note of foreboding; Freud explains it is a replica of the one in his Vienna home, from which he was forced out by occupying Nazis. Religious iconography is strewn about the room, showing inattention by sheer volume, but also suggesting a curious amount of fanaticism by an avowed atheist. Subtle variation in costuming by Mark Mariani completes a bustling stage picture, around and upon which these two men change seats and vantage points as swiftly as they shift topics.

Greenberg and Krebsbach have a clear connection with the subtext that propels what is essentially one long act of conversation. Each gains and loses the upper hand with a real hunger for debate, but this is underscored by respect and compassion for the opponent. As Lewis, Krebsbach clearly yet inscrutably uses the dearth of logical sense as validation for the necessity of belief; meanwhile, he gamely chuckles with recognition when his partner steers the conversation (and himself) toward the room’s therapy session couch with questions about childhood. However, Lewis’s potential is best deployed as a foil for Freud, whom Greenberg plays with witty, dismissive dominance and elderly conviction. Humor springs from much of their banter, but the mood just as frequently takes a turn, such as when Freud speaks candidly and clinically of ending his life. Yet for all their well-defended differences of opinion, the moments that shine brightest are those in which idealism falls victim to human shortcomings: hearing Freud breathe, “Thank God,” after denying any such deity’s existence is where the company collects on its investment in these staunch philosophies.

For all its claims to academic prowess, Freud’s Last Session succeeds most handily as an exploration about the space between one’s ideology — even that of the man who invented it — and how one lives and interacts with others. Although their conversation is lively and intellectually compelling, the arguments do not rank among the production’s strongest and most moving gestures, however infinitesimal. After all, the characters do not change each other’s minds, and it is unlikely they will the viewer’s; what they influence, at far less cost, is the heart.

Freud's Last Session is no longer playing.
For the latest from the Century Theatre, click here.