Max McLean Brilliant in Theatrical Adaptation of CS Lewis' Screwtape Letters
backdrop of skulls and bones. The master/tempter Screwtape receives and sends his correspondence through the mediation of his assisting demon named Toadpipe - and through a unique communications device not unlike the drive through teller tube at a bank. Only this tube communicates through the layers of the lowerachy of the Kingdom below. The entire play takes place in Screwtape' barren office, decorated only by his sickening pride and self love.
Only Screwtape fully appears on that stage. Yes, he is assisted by a demon named Toadpipe who has no lines, only gyrations, grunts and gestures - a part well played by Tamala Bakkenson. However, the performance revolves around Screwtape. The characters of Wormwood, The Enemy (the true God), "Our Father Below" (the Evil One), Slobgob, The Patient (victim of Wormwood's failed temptations) and The Woman (with whom the patient falls in love) are made present through McLean's commanding presence.
Attending the Screwtape Letters should take its place alongside reading the original Lewis book - for anyone who seeks to live their life with meaning and purpose. This is a reverse morality play. Its message is delivered in a manner which elicited laughter from some in the audience. I did not laugh at all. It moved me to interior reflection - and appreciation for the gift of living faith.
The lessons revealed in the diabolical dialogue between the two demons - as they seek to devour and destroy - called to mind the clear promise of Jesus, "The thief comes to kill and destroy, I have come to bring Life and life in abundance" (John 10:10).
The book peels back the layers of life, revealing the reality of the unseen or spiritual world. It exposes a morally upside down universe where the Evil One, the "Father Below", and his minions, strategically seek out the fissures in our fractured freedom in order to lead us into the slavery of Hell. That Hell is separation from the God who is Love. It is aptly called in the book, the "kingdom of noise". It is devoid of all that is beautiful and good and true. That includes the wells of silence at which we learn the way of prayer.
The road to that separation is paved by our wrongful exercise of human freedom. We choose the way. The correspondence between these two demons exposes the meaning of the Moral life. Our choices not only change the world around us, they change us. We become what we choose. Because our capacity to choose the good has been fractured by sin, our choices have become a field of battle.
On that field, temptations raise their weapons against us, seeking out our most vulnerable areas. It is there where demons find their open door, piggybacking on our pride and self love in its myriad of disguises. They ride in to our lives on the back of our disordered appetites. It is there where lies lure us into the darkness where the "father below" works his evil and corrupting ways.
The production received a well deserved and prolonged standing ovation at its conclusion. Afterward, Max McLean returned to the stage to answer questions from the members of the audience who desired to stay. He revealed another gift, his ability to teach the meaning of this play. Using the questions as a vehicle, like any good teacher, he spoke of his own experience in bringing the play from page to stage. He also explained the purpose CS Lewis had in living his life dedicated to writing such brilliant masterpieces of Christian apologetics.
After the production, patrons could pick up literature about the Fellowship for the Performing Arts, one of the projects Max is involved in. Its goal is to "produce theatre from a Christian worldview that engages a diverse audience". Having now seen this play I can say that they are succeeding. In so doing, they are keeping alive the work of greats like CS Lewis who understood the real mission of those who bear the name Christian.
We cannot build ghettos for ourselves where we hide from the world. Like the One whose name we bear, Jesus Christ, we are called to love the World - and to bring into its heart the message of the true humanism, Christianity. One of the greatest vehicles for accomplishing this task is the Arts. Max McLean is a great artist, a great actor and a great gift.
The performance in Norfolk is co-sponsored by the Virginia Arts Festival. The play is making its way throughout various cities around the Nation. See it! I was delighted to read that an adaptation of Lewis' "The Great Divorce" is now being undertaken by the Fellowship for the Performing Arts. I will keep our global readers aware of its progress.
- - -
Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Max McLean, Screwtape Letters, Virginia Arts Festival, Wells Theatre, Fellowship for the performing Arts, CS Lewis, Deacon Keith Fournier
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More U.S. News
- SHOCKING: Senator says IRS set to pay out $70 million in employee bonuses
- Agents think they'll find out what happened to Jimmy Hoffa - after 40 years
- Did Pocahontas save explorer John Smith here? Native American site of Werowocomoco fascinating regardless
- Poorly prepared teachers steering nation's classrooms
- Cheers Star: We Didn't Need Surveillance When We Were Kids - 'We Had God'
- IN SEARCH OF SUNKEN TREASURE: Divers plunge into Lake Michigan to search for 17th Century ship
- No-one Can Change the Truth About Fatherhood. Love Your Father. Be a Good Father
- Archbishop Chaput Cuts Through the Double Talk About Religious Liberty
- Courageous Cardinal George of Chicago Defends Marriage, Calls for Public Conversion
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?