Reviews - - by Emma Nuttall

REVIEW: Hysteria at Hampstead Theatre

REVIEW: Hysteria at Hampstead Theatre Anton Sher @ Hampstead Theatre. HampsteadTheatrePhotography

The location of this particular theatrical masterpiece was the Hampstead Theatre, quite frankly, the most perfect location. Close enough to Hampstead and a hop, skip and jump from the Finchley Road. Alas, Freud’s statue no longer casts an eye over of all theatrical proceedings; it surely had to be Hampstead Theatre or bust.

Freud held little interest in the stage, perhaps, when others around him decided to dream, he did, as he often declared too, simply decided to think. The idea of looking through a Freudian window is entirely thrilling, he always leaves you with a sense of intrigue and controversy, and wishing for some solace from any wild Hysteria, in my life, it is never unexpected.

I tend to make a point of not reading any other reviews prior to watching a play. I prefer to offer a writer, and in this case the writer and director, Terry Johnson, a blank canvas on which to paint their words for me to experience entirely in my ownway. Johnson’s script was thorough and intellectually witty. I was enthralled by the four main characters, Freud, Dali, Jessica and Yahuda, as they arrived on set in various states of undress, larking about in a selection of slapstick situations, somewhat unexpected but pleasant to behold. Dali was, should I be overly critical was slightly more Morecambe and Wise than Shakespeare. And the entirely obscure hallucination, which harked back to an early Sci­fi party I attended last year, was unnecessary and, if anything, detracted rather than added to the overall experience.

The direction, whilst centring on the darker side of Freudian history, was designed to inhabit and flow with the stage so beautifully designed for it. At no point, should misfalls or quirks have risen, never and quivered once unhinged the cast as they moved about scene simply waiting for a slip up. There it is. It fitted gently into a sentence. We all knew it was coming, and had all considered how it would be handled. As it was, this is the one point at which I wished to tut loud enough for all ears to hear. A Freudian slip, by definition, is a mistake. A blip. An error in speech, memory, or physical action. Should it have raised its head once, I would have nodded in acknowledgment, but thrice? The second wounded me and third, the third infuriated me and tore through the heart of a once exquisite script.

And now, dear reader, is the silence and the silence is now yours and yours alone.


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