Shadowlands
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A drama by William Nicholson

Directed by Patricia Richardson

26th-31st October 2009 at 7.45pm


Synopsis:

This play is the poignant, humorous, unsentimental and ultimately optimistic, story of shy Oxford don and children’s author C.S. Lewis – perhaps best known for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and the American poet Joy Davidman.

Set in the male enclave of academic Oxford in the 1950’s when their relationship starts as an exchange of literary correspondence.  Lewis had remained a confirmed bachelor until his fifties when he met and was enchanted by Joy Davidman.  Their ensuing encounter with love and suffering led him to reconsider many of the beliefs he had held so staunchly before that fateful meeting.


The Cast:
CS Lewis
:
Matthew Ellison
Joy Gresham nee Davidman
:
Tanya Alexander
Major WH Lewis (Warnie)
:
Mike Griffiths
Douglas Gresham
:
Ben Winkley   
Rev 'Harry' Harrington
:
Chaz Davenport
Professor Christopher Riley
:
Don Gent
Alan Gregg
:
Harry Susser
Doctor
:
Stewart Barlow
Priest
:
Graham Hawkins
Registrar
:
Margaret Ball   
Nurse
:
Laura Ferguson
Supported by
:
Louise Isaacs
Alan Scott
Andrew Gary-Scott
Steve Jones

See production photographs courtesy Laetitia Ellison


Review:

by Linda Kirkman

WILLIAM Nicholson’s play is based on the real-life relationship between author and academic C S Lewis and the American poet Joy Gresham, and it is a powerful, thought-provoking piece that can, and probably should, leave its audience feeling almost shell-shocked.

Patricia Richardson’s production is stamped, as always when she directs, with the hallmark of quality, both in the attention to every detail and in the extraordinary performances that she gets from her cast. Matthew Ellison (Lewis) is every inch the ‘foolish, frightened old man’ that he describes himself as to the dying Joy Gresham, played with intensely moving emotion by Tanya Alexander. These are characterisations that I simply cannot believe could be bettered anywhere, and I can give no higher praise than to say that I believed in them utterly.

Mike Griffiths too is superb as Warnie Lewis, and young Ben Winkley gives an appealing portrayal of Joy’s son, Douglas.

Props are first class, as is the set, designed by Vicci Johnson, which doubles as a number of places although is essentially Oxford college rooms. And the rear wardrobe, the doors of which open to reveal Narnia, Lewis’ fantasy land, is beautifully created.

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