Fans of the TV show Friends will probably recall (fondly) one of Joey’s infamous hilarious theatrical roles where he played the eponymous character in Freud the Musical – to clarify, this version (being staged at the King’s Head Theatre as part of its #festival46 of new writing) is not that.
Instead, Natasha Sutton-William’s gives us a rather surreal one-act musical comedy that is just as funny but slightly more risqué (Joey probably never sang a song about sticking rats into a certain bodily orifice). This is a musical that has more in common with edgy performance art than your typical show (aside from the tits and arse part – literally – this is Freud, after all).
If you’re looking for a historically accurate biographical piece, Freud the Musical is likely not the most informative way of learning about the dawn of psychoanalysis but if you want to spend an hour of your night belly laughing then you’ll be well catered for.
Sutton-Williams is a ball of energy – she explodes on to stage and almost seems to metamorphose from one character to the next, often flipping back and forth from Freud to his patient at lightening speed; perhaps ‘manic’ is the best way to describe it. She depicts Freud as a coke snorting lunatic who has a half-human, half-cat type of conscience (a bit like Jiminy Cricket to Pinocchio) called Oedipussy (remember, this is rather surreal). And talking of puppets, watch out for a particularly comical moment where Sutton-Williams incorporates one into the piece, which works really well despite being quite bonkers. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes springs to mind (Who will guard the guards) – poor Freud could do with a little bit of psychoanalysis himself before being unleashed onto his patients.
Like most great satire, Freud the Musical works on a level of poking fun at its source material but also gives us some insight. Sutton-Williams has clearly used Freud’s theories as the impetus to create this piece but one assumes that in real life, he wasn’t quite as chaotic.
Though Sutton-Williams is accompanied by pianist Phil Blandford throughout, she also makes use of a sampler too and layers sounds, which she records live as part of the performance and is highly effective. And with song lyrics such as ‘Cocaine, I love it! Cocaine, I want to hug it!’ how could this not be a winner? This show comes highly recommended but not one for the whole family (leave the kids at home). Goodness knows what Freud would make of it all.
Runs until 31 July 2016| Image: Alicia Clarke