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Secrets: the Untold Story of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung

03/07/2013 12:56 pm 12:56:37 | Updated May 08, 2013

The friendship of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung has been covered many times, recently in David Cronenberg's notable movie, A Dangerous Method.

While that film concentrates on Jung's relationship with Sabina Spielrein, Ken Wydro's Secrets, introduces a later patient/lover, Toni Wolff.

As potent as that relation is rendered, the real passion here is found in the relationship between the two doctors themselves.

The play is based on a collection of 1,000 letters between the icons. It portrays their first introduction, with Dr. Freud cautiously inviting Jung into his office, with the meeting becoming a 13-hour marathon, leaving Mrs. Jung (Emma) virtually abandoned, until her husband appears all those hours later, bearing pastries.

Jung's word association process quickly leads Freud into relating the story of his nanny and her eventual dismissal. Before you know it, the men are in a collaboration so strong, that Freud names Jung as his successor as the president of the International Psychoanalytic Society.

The rest is indeed history, as the colleagues work together, ultimately revealing the irreconcilable differences that shattered their association, not just as professional cohorts, but as friends.

Their relationship is fraught with drama. There is a great deal made out of Freud being a Jew (although he did not have a relationship with God) and Jung's Christianity (ultimately leaving Jung with an unquenchable thirst for all things divine and spiritual.)

One main reason for the split, was Jung's insistence that the libido was not merely sexual. It encompassed all things; art, music and the essence of all creative endeavors. Freud claimed it was just about sex.

The breakup, as indicated by the letters, was as intense as a father and son, or even lovers. Although there was no actual homosexuality, Freud did ponder on its possibility, when he realized how deep his love for Jung was.

Wydro, in a world of theatrical alchemy, was able to intertwine the letters' contents with actual meetings in a way that was all in one piece, reminding us that theater can be as essential to us as other substances, such as air and food.

The cast was sturdy and able, the major standout being John Michalski's sympathetic Freud, Rigid in his scientific believes, but fluid in his relationships, Wydro was able to portray both sides equally. Cooper Grodin was an energetic Jung; Natalia Volkodaeva a lyrical Toni Wolff; with Anita Anthonj a vulnerable, yet strong, Emma. As Freud's earlier sidekick, Sandor Ferenczi, Demetri Bonaros nimbly added some extra insight into the goings on.

Secrets will be at the TBG Theater at 312 W. 36th Street, until 3/10, and hopefully will be produced again.