Newsnight Review discussed Christopher Hampton's play The Talking Cure.
(Edited highlights of the panel's review)
I'm a great fan of Christopher Hampton and this is a fast, serious, often witty dialogue which forces you to listen to it, but it fails to make clear the doctrinal differences between Freud and Jung, so when the split comes, you don't feel it, so your attention shifts to the relationship between Jung and his mistress, which is where the love story is centred. The first half was unsatisfactory because of the problem between Jung and Freud not going head to head, but often talking past each other, yet by the end I was strangely moved, I had followed the journey and it made me cry. I didn't expect that.
What do you make of Jodhi May's portrayal of Sabine Spielren? She was playing an hysteric, was it distracting?
It was terrific, because it was the centre of the play. She was absolutely terrific, in what is basically a perfectly competent, dry, rather academic TV play put on stage. The problem is, as Jeanette pointed out, he has not done his homework. Freud is standing for classic secular enlightenment values and he is saying to Jung, you are into racism, mumbo jumbo and what has emerged is Jung was a Nazi sympathiser. In the 60s he was a big figure, I read books by him, and then I realised he was talking dangerous nonsense. He is totally forgotten. This is an antiquated argument.
That's not true, he's not totally forgotten, he's a serious thinker.
He used to infect thinking. No-one reads it. It has all gone, disappeared, nonsense.
I read him every winter, all the way through, 20 volumes.
Was it a play or a lesson in psychoanalysis?
Essentially it is Freud made easy, and the theatre programme comes with cartoons and speech bubbles to make you understand the development. I take Tom's point that it doesn't capture the clash of ideologies that was going on. Worse than that, you have the idea, with all due respect to the actors, that they are trying to play vastly intelligent people.
I think Ray Fiennes is strong, he comes across well.
He's playing a slightly sinister nerd, but Jung was a more sinister nerd than that.
I do not think Jung is sinister.
He was a fascist fellow traveller Jeanette. He remained a chairman of the Nazi sanctioned Society for Psychoanalysis for three or four years.
But that is not what the play is about.
It ought to be about that, if we were politically or ethically aware, it should be about that, instead of this middle class sitcom, that is what it is.