Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Rep Stage Hysteria

By • Oct 16th, 2009 • Category: Reviews
Hysteria by Terry Johnson
Rep Stage
Rep Stage – Studio Theatre, Columbia, MD
Through November 1st
$26/$12 Student
Reviewed October 11th, 2009

If you are looking for something that will make you laugh, cry and leave the theatre with a new understanding of psychology go see Hysteria. It’s the kind of show that even though there are some parts you want to look away from you just cant do it, and other times you will find yourself leaning in closer.

Hysteria revolves around the ever crumbling world and sanity of a dieing Sigmund Freud. The show is thought provoking, funny and at times a little scary. We follow Freud, played by Jeff Baker, in his final days dealing with extremely painful jaw cancer. He is about to publish his last works which tries to question religion and the and mythology surrounding Moses. His dear friend and personal Doctor Abraham Yahuda, played by Conrad Feininger, tries to discourage him from publishing the works. For much of Freud’s life he was never questioned, but in his final hours he his visited by some strange guests. A young woman, Jessica, played by Marni Penning, is angry and wanting answers about his most famous patient Rebecca. He is also visited by a very comical and self centered Salvador Dali, played by Bruce R. Nelson.

The characters are all very well constructed, full of life and personality leaving the audience completely vulnerable to their actions. When they are happy, you are happy. When they are sad, you are sad. Dali’s character is the comedian. He is blissfully unaware of his peer’s negative critiques and refers to himself in the third person. He and Jessica have a great chemistry on stage and together add a child like spunk and physical comedy. There is some silliness between Yahuda and Freud as Freud tries desperately to hide this mysterious girl who demands answers about Rebecca. There is also the appearance of Freud’s Daughter Anna, played by Elizabeth Simmons, and another mysterious woman, which turns out to be one of Freud’s dark secrets.

There is so much that happens in this play, it makes it go by so quickly, almost too quickly. In the end you are left alone with your thoughts. Not just about the show itself, but about the real people that were in the play. The show does not claim to be truthful, but it makes one think about the so called “hysteric” and if someone would be diagnosed it today. The show questions Freud’s theory and opens the doors to his own hidden secrets. A farce and a drama all in one, Hysteria is playing at the Rep Stage, housed in the beautiful theatre department of Howard Community College. Be aware that this show contains nudity and simulated hallucinations. It is a little too dark for a date show or a family show.


  • Sigmund Freud: Jeff Baker
  • Abraham Yahuda: Conrad Feininger
  • Salvador Dali: Bruce R. Nelson
  • Jessica: Mari Penning
  • Anna/The Woman: Elzabeth Simmons


  • Director: Steven Carpenter
  • Scenic Design: Klyph Stanford
  • Lighting Design: Dan Covey
  • Costume Design: Yvette Ryan
  • Production Stage Manager: Emily Carter Watson
  • Properties Design: Andrea “Dre” Moore
  • Sound Design: Chas Marsh
  • Dialect Coach: BettyAnn Leeseberg-Lange
  • Dramaturg: Lisa A. Wilde

Disclaimer: Rep Stage provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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spent two years working in a coached ensemble called (luxurious tooth) in Chicago, and had the privilege of working with Jonathan Pitts founder of the Chicago Improv Festival. Since moving back to DC Sara has been involved in various local productions such as Hexagon's "Strike while the irony's hot" and "What so proudly we bailed" and is now Hexagon's Marketing VP. She also has performed at The Blair Mansion ("Politics is Murder," "The Day Disco Died" and "Murder is All in the Family." She is also is a comedy writer who has interned for "The Potomac Review," a literary magazine published by Montgomery College.

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