Hysteria at the New Vic Theatre review


Two of the most brilliant minds of the twentieth century collide to hilarious effect in London Classical Theatre’s production of Terry Johnson’s classic farce, Hysteria.

Set in 1938 it tells a fictional tale of a true-life meeting between Sigmund Freud and Salvador Dali.

All the action takes place in Freud’s office after he’s fled Nazi-occupied Austria to settle in a leafy Swiss Cottage. Now in the final year of his life an ageing Freud intends to spend his last days in peaceful contemplation.

But, with this being a farce you’ve probably already guessed things don’t quite go to plan.

Cue the arrival of Salvador Dali, who on a visit to Freud’s office discovers a naked woman in the closet and all mayhem breaks loose.

Ged McKenna leads a five-strong cast as Freud, easily pulling off the humorous and bizarre antics of this controversial man.

The bickering between Freud, and fiesty student, Jessica (a brilliant performance by understudy, Kathryn Ritchie) drives the narrative, only to be disrupted when Dali appears, throwing chaos into the mix.

The mayhem that follows reflects particularly well, the minds of Freud and Dali.

Dali is eccentric, impulsive and irritating. John Dorney, as Dali is brilliant from the second he arrives on stage.

Together the pair are hilarious and do a fantastic job of portraying these complex men. The slapstick comedy and their ludicrous behaviour keeps the audience in constant laughter.

However, there is a serious side to this story with a stark contrast of comedy and tragedy as the focus moves from light-hearted humour, to intense silence towards the end.

The audience gets a chilling reminder of the reality Dali and Freud were living in at the time, when sirens blast around the venue to warn of Nazi enemies. Taking the audience away from the farcical chaos inside Freud’s office to what is going on outside the room.

Almost 25 years on from the play’s premiere this impressive production shows its humour and impact are as strong as ever.


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