The play takes place at Carl Jung's home on a lake in Switzerland. It is Sunday afternoon, and Sigmund Freud, joining his protégé for lunch, finds him in conflict with his long-suffering wife, Emma, because of Jung's infatuation with a lovely young patient/pupil, Toni Laufer. Repressed in his own sexual feelings, Freud disapproves of Jung's dalliance, but their dispute only hints at the larger differences that will shortly divide them—as Jung has finally decided to split with his mentor and develop his own (and to Freud, radical) theories of the subconscious. Mingling lighthearted domestic scenes, with moments of challenging intellectual exchange, the play eventually resolves the problems it has raised with novel inventiveness and good humor as Emma agrees to limit herself to running the household and tending the children (thereby gaining time to pursue her own career); Toni accepts a position as Jung's assistant (and mistress); and Freud departs, secure in the conviction that Jung's new direction of thought in no way diminishes the magnitude of his own accomplishments.
This remarkable first play was initially presented by San Francisco's famed Magic Theatre, where it won the Will Glickman Playwright Award, the Hollywood Drama-Logue Award and the Bay Area Critics Circle Award. A gripping, absorbing study of conflict between two great men—Sigmund Freud and his disciple, Carl Jung—the play captures the personal idiosyncracies and frailties of these two titans with compassion and humor, while exploring the larger question of the philosophical differences which eventually drove them apart. "Lynne Kaufman has made an auspicious playwriting debut with THE COUCH…The play is filled with marvelous dialogue." —The Independent Journal. "…an absorbing play that moves between satiric comedy and dramatic confrontation." —Bernard Wiener, San Francisco Chronicle. "Kaufman's playwriting debut provides, in itself, a delightful evening of theatre. Even more it holds the promise of exciting works to come." —San Mateo Times. "…a fascinating play…" —Bay Area Reporter.