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Luther on the couch

Going Out

PSYCHOLOGICAL DRAMA‘The First Protestant’ looks at the life of Martin Luther from a psychoanalytical perspective. (pic: Martin Luther (1529), painted by Lucas Cranach the Elder).

Ciara Moynihan

Anyone with an interest in theatre, history, philosophy, theology or psychology, or indeed anyone who has ever had reason to visit a counsellor, will be intrigued by ‘The First Protestant’, a new play being staged in Ballina Arts Centre this Thursday, October 26, and a month later in The Linenhall, Castlebar, on Friday, November 27.
A controversial look at the life of Martin Luther, it asks whether he was saintly or suffering from mental-health issues by looking at his life from a psychoanalytical perspective. The question it poses: Was this man devout and divinely inspired or did he have deep and complex psychological troubles?
Written by Sligo-based psychotherapist and actor Gerry Farrell, the play is a tense, psychological duel between the pious monk Luther (Michael Roper), who is suffering from acute anxiety and pathological guilt about sexual feelings when ‘the devil tempts him at night’, and the godless Analyst (Farrell), a shadowy figure loosely based on Freud.
The empirical, cynical Analyst speculates on whether Luther’s defiance of the pope and Catholicism was really a projection of his deep resentment towards his father, at whose hands he had suffered what we would today be recognised as physical and emotional abuse. The play is laced with the history of the time, with more than a few parallels with today’s realities — the printing press (the information superhighway of its day), a banking collapse, austerity for peasants and a Europe in fear of radical Islam.Billed as a gripping psychological drama with moments of intensity and unexpected humour, ‘The First Protestant’ is certainly a tempting proposition.

Tickets €15/€12. For more information, contact Ballina Arts Centre on 096 73593 or via www.ballinaartscentre.com, or The Linenhall Arts Centre on 094 23733 or via www.thelinenhall.com.

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