THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS, 4Star****, London, to 07 01

by C. S. Lewis
adapted by Max Mclean and Jeffrey Fiske.
4 Stars ****

The Park 200, Clifton Terrace, London N4 3 JP to 7 January 2017.
Tues-Sat 7.30pm Mat Thu & Sat 3pm.
Runs 1 hr 30 mins No interval.

TICKETS: 020 7870 6876.
Review: William Russell 10 December.

Burning blissfully down below
Amid all the fun frolics and tinsel draped Christmas shows with past their prime favourites playing supporting roles to TV starlets The Screwtape Letters stand out like a good deed in a naughty world. C.S. Lewis’s celebrated correspondence between His Abysmal Sublimity Screwtape his nephew Wormwood, a trainee devil, have been cleverly and skilfully transformed by Max Mclean and Jeffrey Fiske into a stimulating, diverting and satisfying theatrical event. The stroke of genius was probably to add to what would otherwise have been a one man show an almost new character Toadpipe, a devil mentioned only once in the letters. This lurid being becomes Screwtape’s amanuensis, taking down the letters, delivering them to the system by which they are despatched from Hell – a sort of tube like there used to be in department stores between counter and counting house which shines red when the missive is being sent – and generally cavorts around, a silent comment on the words.

To add to the pleasures of hell there is a most magnificent backdrop, a floor to ceiling ossuary frequently bathed in deepest red.

As Screwtape Max McLean cuts a suitably malevolent and seductive figure, dictating the letters with all the subtlety and shifts of mood demanded, while with nothing to say, although allowed the occasional devilish grunt or two, Karen Eleanor Wight is a marvellously malicious Toadpipe.

The contents of the letters are stimulating to say the least. Maybe they are better read, but if they must be presented to us in theatrical form this is as perfect a way of doing it as imaginable and a splendid way of recovering from too much turkey and torpor.

Screwtape: Max McLean.
Toadpipe: Karen Eleanor Wight.

Director: Max Mclean.
Scenic Designer: Cameron Anderson.
Costume Designer: Michael Bevins.
Lighting Designer: Stuart Porter.
Original Music & Sound Designer: John Gromade.

2016-12-19 10:11:03

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