27 January 2014


We went to the Regent University Theater production of the play Shadowlands Saturday night. Shadowlands is an adaptation for the stage of the film of the same name that starred Anthony Hopkins as C.S. Lewis. The plot revolves around the relationship between Lewis and Joy Davidman Gresham, the American divorcee who became his wife. What began with correspondence and moved through a diffident initial meeting to a "technical" marriage so Joy and her son (only one in the play, not the two sons she actually had) could remain in England, to a deep emotional bond tried by Joy's bouts with cancer and eventual death.

Lewis's movement from calm analysis of "The Problem of Pain" to heart-wrenching experience of pain and his struggle to account for such suffering in light of his faith--theodicy--are the play's twin themes. Both are reasonable accurate accounts although each has been stripped of the nuance and clearer conclusion recounted in Alasdair McGrath's biography of Lewis. In particular, Lewis was not quite the rigid and emotionally distant Oxford tutor portrayed in the play.

Regent's production was spare. I found the first act gripping but the second seemed to drag slightly. The acting was well done although a complete sense of emotional involvement by the actors seemed lacking. Indeed, perhaps that's why the second act felt a bit weak.

Notwithstanding my quibbles, I highly recommend Shadowlands. It is fine local entertainment and is surely able to provide ample fodder for discussions of important topics.

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