Must see: Hysteria, various venues

Sher shines as Freud in a farce to be reckoned with

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Farce has its affinities with the Freudian psychoanalytic method. Both are mechanisms for exposing the guilty secrets we are desperate to hide – the former for sadistically comic, the latter for therapeutic purposes.

 This is an insight that Terry Johnson developed in Hysteria, a play which is part dazzling intellectual farce, part controversial case study as it turns the tables on Freud and puts him on his own couch.

The action is set in the dying Freud's Hampstead study in 1938 as his peace is shattered, first by a young woman, who materialises like a spook and immediately sheds her clothes (including her Freudian slip); and then by the egomaniac surrealist painter Salvador Dali.

There are some awkward shifts of gear between this slapstick and the later discursive soul-bearing, but the playing – particularly from splendid Antony Sher as Freud – is expert.

Oxford Playhouse (01865 305305; tonight; Cambridge Arts Theatre (01223 503333; Mon to 8 Sept