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"Freudian Slips", Presented by Abingdon Theatre Company
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"Freudian Slips", Presented by Abingdon Theatre Company

- Backstage with the Playwrights

Freudian Slips
Abingdon Theatre Company
Dorothy Strelsin Theatre

By Marvin Lifschitz

At the
Abingdon Theatre Company
312 West 36th Street
Artistic Director: Jan Buttram

Warren Kelley as Thomas Buxton
Joel Leffert as Sigmund Freud
Allen Lewis Rickman as Otto Brotto
Margi Sharp as Madeline Shumsky
Jason Marr as Sidney Layman
Sue Brady as Ensemble
David Smilow as Hyman Shumsky

Directed by Tom Bloom

Set Design: Lara Fabian
Lighting Design: Travis McHale
Costume Designer: Neville Bean & Nancy Nichols
Composer/Sound Designer: Margaret Pine
Production Manager: Aneta Feld
Production Stage Manager: Laurie Rae Waugh
Casting Director: William Schill
Associate Artistic Director: Kim T. Sharp
Press: Shirley Herz Associates
Director of Marketing: Doug DeVita

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
February 6, 2009

In an intimate setting at the Dorothy Strelsin Theatre, Sigmund Freud succumbs to a seizure, in the middle of a professional speech. This is the beginning of a tale about Freudís nemeses, obsessions, weaknesses, and fantasies. Yes, Freud (Joel Leffert), himself, is psychoanalyzed. His analyst is Thomas Buxton (Warren Kelley), a colleague at the 1921 London conference. To find the source of Freudís deepest trauma, Buxton puts Freud on his couch, and they travel through time back to Vienna, 1912. Five characters appear in Freudís recollections, and they come alive in somewhat humorous sketches.

Freud remains obsessed with an erotically charged, young female patient, Madeline Shumsky (Margi Sharp), who is married to an abusive Rabbi, Hyman Shumsky (David Smilow). Madeline reveals that she leaves her lingerie at home for these sessions, arousing Freud to obvious delirium. During one of Madelineís visits to Freud, she meets another patient, the younger Sidney Layman (Jason Marr), who adores mother figures, and he swoons at Madelineís feet. Madeline now has three admirers and seriously prefers the youthful Layman. When Freud becomes abusively jealous of this budding romance, Dr. Otto Brotto (Allen Lewis Rickman), Freudís competition, gets Layman on his couch. Meanwhile, a variety of female characters appear, thanks to the hugely talented Sue Brady. Laymanís mother, a hot entertainer, is one of best roles.

During the antics designed by playwright, Marvin Lifschitz (a practicing psychoanalyst), Yiddishisms, wigs (Freud disguises himself as an old man in the street to spy on Madeline and Layman), and sketches within the sessions abound with rapid, rambunctious fervor. Madeline and Layman meet in a funeral home, in a cafť, on a bench, and so on, and Freud follows with frenetic foolishness, as the humor quickly wanes. Sue Brady, David Smilow, and Jason Marr were the most riveting of this silly ensemble, but Joel Leffert, as the lead and title role, was just not funny. Rather, he was painfully annoying. He may have been better cast as the Rabbi, with Mr. Smilow as Freud, although the requisite physicality would be off. Perhaps Director, Tom Bloom, wanted to emphasize the unrelenting anguish of the erotically obsessed Freud, but Freudís behavior, in this tiny space, became oppressive. In fact, when he began to dance, in one of his too many sketches, his legs almost reached the front rows.

Freudian Slips might find firmer ground on a larger stage with some cast changes. Or, Dr. Lifschitz might take his show on the road and play Freud himself.

The Company in "Freudian Slips"
Margi Sharp, Jason Marr, Allen Lewis Rickman,
Joel Leffert, Warren Kelly, Sue Brady, David Smilow
Courtesy of Kim T. Sharp

Jason Marr, Margi Sharp, Joel Leffert
Courtesy of Kim T. Sharp

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For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at