Alvin Epstein Is Freud in Johnson's Surreal Comedy, Hysteria, in Philly

News   Alvin Epstein Is Freud in Johnson's Surreal Comedy, Hysteria, in Philly
Veteran actor Alvin Epstein will be Sigmund Freud and Matthew Floyd Miller will play Salvador Dalí in the East Coast premiere of Terry Johnson's Hysteria at the Wilma Theater in Philadelphia May 13-June 14.

Wilma co-artistic director Jiri Zizka directs the play, the winner of London's Olivier Award for Best New Comedy. The work is inspired by real-life meeting between "two of the world’s greatest and most eccentric men" — psychoanalyst Freud and surrealist painter Dalí.

According to Wilma notes, "Set in London in 1938, Hysteria springs from Freud's fanciful mind as he juggles unexpected visits to his home by the famous surrealist painter Dalí and a mysterious young woman named Jessica who can't seem to keep her clothes on. The tables are turned as Freud soon finds himself the subject of Jessica's own bizarre form of psychoanalysis while Dalí's surreal imagery creeps into his dreams and consciousness."

Opening is May 20.

Abraham Yahuda is played by New York actor Merwin Goldsmith whose Broadway credits include Ain't Broadway Grand, Me and My Girl, Grand Hotel and more.

Jessica is played by Philadelphia actress Mary McCool, who was seen at the Wilma in Les Liaisons Dangereuses. The supporting ensemble features Robert Ian Cutler, Will Harrell, Matteo LeCompte, Miranda Libkin, Kristen O'Rourke, Christine Perrotta, Ted Powell, Molly Simpson and Megan Slater.

The esteemed Epstein is a former artistic director of the Guthrie Theater and associate director of Yale Repertory Theatre, which he helped found with Robert Brustein. His more than 20 Broadway and Off-Broadway productions include his debut with Marcel Marceau (on Marceau's first-ever American tour), the Fool in Orson Welles' King Lear (acting opposite Welles), Lucky in the American premiere of Waiting for Godot, and Clov in the American premiere of Endgame.

Miller's credits include Broadway's Not About Nightingales and Invention of Love and Off-Broadway's The Seagull, Of Mice and Men and Letters from Cuba.

According to Wilma, Johnson was first inspired to write Hysteria after reading Jeffrey Masson's book, "The Assault on Truth: Freud's Suppression of the Seduction Theory." He then visited the Freud Museum in London, which was the home of Freud and his family after they escaped Nazi-occupied Austria in 1938. Johnson stated, "Freud's son meticulously re-created Freud's Vienna study… and it is a strange and powerful room to walk into. I walked into the study, and instantly knew where the play would be set; and what its parameters were."

The production team includes set designer Mimi Lien, lighting designer Jerold R. Forsyth, costume designer Janus Stefanowicz and sound designer Nick Rye.

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