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A CurtainUp Review
Freudian Slips presents Freud (Joel Leffert) in 1921, at the height of his career, delivering a lecture in London. For some reason, Freud is overcome by a seizure and falls on the floor in the middle of his presentation. He is taken to the office of a younger psychoanalyst, Thomas Buxton (Warren Kelley), who convinces the master that he himself is in need of psychoanalysis to get at the root of his problem.
The story now goes back to Vienna, 1912, where Freud first met the alluring Madeline Shumsky (Margi Sharp), the source of his nervous affliction. Madeline orignially came to Freud because she was having problems with her domineering and abusive husband, Rabbi Hyman Shumsky (David Smilow). But the coy wench soon captures Freud's heart and imagination. And he realizes he can no longer live without her. However, has competition. Sidney Layman (Jason Marr), the son of a sexy nightclub singer (Sue Brady), a man obviously suffering from an Oedipal complex, meets Madeline before one of his sessions. And it looks for a while as if the younger, more attractive man will win take Madeline away from Freud.
When Freud confronts Layman with his dastardly intentions, Layman decides to take his complex to Freud's chief rival, the unscrupulous Dr. Otto Brotto (played by Allen Lewis Rickman who, along with Brady, provides the few bright spots in the play) whose motto is "Brevity." In the meantime Freud concocts a plan to find out exactly where Madeline's inclinations lie. He dons a wig, follows Layman and Madeline, and hides in various places around Vienna, including a park and Otto Brotto's office.
High jinx prevail until its unlikely (but by this time who cares?) conclusion. Unfortunately the set never changes, except for a lot turning of the psychiatrist's couch. This, plus the tiny dimensions of the stage, gives the play a static, claustrophobic feel.
Freudian Slips is filled with psychoanalytic jargon and lots of Yiddish (lest anyone forget that Freud was Jewish). This works fine for quick laughs but also sends a show filled with camp and kitsch over the top.
Given the constraints of script and stage, it's hard to judge the competency of director Tom Bloom. Let it be said, however, that he seems to have done little to contain the outlandishness of Lifschitz's fantasy.
The acting ranges from quite good to quite awful. Brady was fine playing all the female roles save Madeline. Rickman was a lot of fun. Smilow didn't seem to know why he was in the play.
Lifschitz's biography states that as a boy in New Jersey he "created dynamic and comedic stories for friends and relatives." Paying audiences, however, have a right to ask for something more professional than Freudian Slips.