note: entire contents copyright 1998 by Beverly Creasey
Mrs. Klein is a walking superego. She knows what's good for you and what's not. And what's more, she's paid handsomely to tell you your shortcomings. Nicholas Wright's savagely funny drama about the pioneering psychoananlyst is pure, delicious "Masterpiece Theatre." The mystery here is psychological: Is Mrs. Klein a monster? A mother-figure? A goddess in the pantheon of psychotherapy?
Both Klein and her daughter are doctors, a set-up for psycho-rivalry if there ever was one. They fight over methodology, over etiology, even over patients. Mother accuses daughter of practicing "pop" psychiatry; daughter accuses mother of parental neglect Wright's play is as clever as all get out. He manages to skewer the preoccupation with the subconscious while at the same time capturing the grandeur of a giant like Melanie Klein --- without making us despise her.
Rick Lombardo directs with a large sweep. Barbara Blossom's Mrs. Klein is Wagnerian in gesture. She strides into a room and owns it --- in stark contrast to her wounded deer of a daughter, cannily portrayed by Dee Nelson. Susanne Nitter rounds out the triumvirate as the timid interloper who is bold enough to come between these two formidable women.
Sarah Sullivan's plush living room set is genuine "Viennese" although Wright transfers the action to London. L. Stacy Eddy's lighting gives warmth to the deceptively cozy parlor. To paraphrase Wright, everyone in this play is a sucker for transference. Psychoanalysis was never so entertaining.