Freud: The Musical
King’s Head Theatre
From 24 July 2016 to 31 July 2016
Review by Keith Mckenna
There is a manic energy to Natasha Sutton-Williams comic performance as Sigmund Freud, three of his patients and a stuffed talking cat alter ego Oedipussy in her one woman show Freud: The Musical.
It opens and closes with Freud standing on a raised level in a three-piece tweed suit, cigar in hand as if about to give an important lecture on his theories. Instead, he sings, "I know what you’re thinking / but that’s not what I’m thinking."
The show suggests the opposite is the case. He doesn’t really know what his patients are thinking but is more than ready to claim his views as their thoughts.
Each of his patients is treated to bizarre sexualised and even violent accounts of what lies behind their dreams and concerns.
They may object, like Dora who disagreed with Freud's claim that she is sexually tempted by her father. She sayis that she is a lesbian. The military officer is also very doubtful about Freud’s interpretation of the sexual implication of his dreams for his domestic life. That doesn’t matter. Freud knows better.
Much of what he says and does is fuelled by considerable amounts of cocaine which he also introduces to his patients.
The officer may not think much of Freud’s ideas but he certainly takes to the cocaine.
Everything is historical caricature that had the audience laughing fairly continuously. There are improbable events including a strange killing, outrageous analysis and exaggerated mannerisms.
Natasha Sutton-Williams switches easily and quickly between the various characters and songs. She is well directed by Dominic McHale who makes the small performing space seem much larger than it is.
At times, as she sniffs copious amounts of cocaine that gets smeared across her face, she resembles some white-faced clown who might be master of ceremonies in a Berlin nightclub of Weimer Germany.
The twelve songs accompanied on piano by Phil Blandford are mostly sung in a 1970s rock musical style, though there are touches of Kurt Weill and the "Rat Man Song" is very Gilbert and Sullivan. Particularly entertaining is her occasional tape looping of the various sounds her voice produced.
You may exit from the short satire wondering if any of what you have seen bears any relationship to reality, and when you find it does perhaps decide that Freud must have been bonkers.