C.S. Lewis on Stage
C.S. Lewis is best known as the author of the kiddie-lit classic The Chronicles of Narnia. But he was many other things as well: a renowned medieval scholar, a WWI veteran, an erstwhile atheist and later Christian apologist, a grieving widower, and, if Key’s one-man evocation of the Oxford don is any indication, a pleasant fellow with whom to share an afternoon and a pot of tea. Excerpting episodes from Lewis’s autobiography and his most popular works of fiction (The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce), Key constructs an interview with the great scholar in his study, with the audience standing in as welcome guest. We’re treated to readings from his most memorable works, musings from his life and an ever-deferred spot of refreshment, all garnished with enticing hints at the darker side of Lewis’s life.
That these darker moments are never given full expression is, perhaps, the most glaring weakness of Key’s portrait. This postconversion Lewis is unshakable in his faith that God’s in his heaven—a stance that leaves little room for the angst that offers grist for the dramatic mill. There are no painful discoveries here, only a kind of jocular resignation at the recollection of injuries long since healed. These faults aside, Gregory makes the most of his material, directing his one-man cast in a chummy, easeful performance. As Lewis, Armacost delivers what the script requires: an entertaining, cheerful and fully fleshed portrayal of a character whose edges have already been smoothed.