Dave and I saw Hysteria at the Aurora Theater today. I think there may well be a gripping play to be found somewhere in the whole unpleasant business of Freud’s recantation of his own seduction hypothesis, but this isn’t it. The farcical parts aren’t really very farcical — you don’t create a farce just by having characters hide in closets and slam doors a lot — and the serious parts are terribly earnest, one-sided, and clumsily contrived.
I have no idea what Dali is doing in the play — even though he’s the funniest character on stage, he has nothing much to do with anything. I got the feeling that the author was figuring if Tom Stoppard could write a play about James Joyce, Tristan Tzara, and Lenin all being in the same city at the same time, then by God he could write a play about the fact that Dali once visited Freud.
The play is occasionally funny — especially an unexpected series of events near the end — but only occasionally. At other times it’s pretty lame. Usually it’s neither all that bad or all that good, just uninspired and, I thought, oddly predictable.