Based on the novel of the same name by C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters has been adapted for the stage by Hailey McQueen. As the title may suggest, the play is structured as a series of letters between a senior demon, Screwtape, and his nephew and junior tempter Wormwood. Screwtape is teaching his nephew the ways of the Devil, helping to secure damnation of his ‘patient’ and send him plummeting to Hell. Screwtape is assisted by his faithful servant Toadpipe, and together the two schemers revel in the delight of the Devil.
Lewis wrote about a great many topics throughout his lifetime and career, but never was he more spirited than when he wrote of demons and their life in Hell. The script is brilliant, funny and dark, and while very word-heavy, still manages to captivate.
This is, mostly, down to the wonderful rapport built between the two actors on stage. Yannick Lawry is Screwtape, charismatic and assured. Lawry’s handle on the text is superb, and given he is practically performing an inner monologue for the entire 90 minutes, he somehow manages to keep the momentum going. His Screwtape is brilliant and witty and a tad unhinged, swinging from glee to anger to disgust in seconds. George Zhao as Toadpipe is the perfect Igor to Screwtape’s Dr Frankenstein. Zhao displays spectacular comedic skills, and his physical work is lively and dynamic. He’s extremely watchable, making the most of every moment he’s on stage.
McQueen, who has also directed this production, displays a deft hand at choosing her creative team. Sound design and music by Adam Jones are impressive. His lively little melodies and ingenious repetitive sequences take the production to a whole other level. Lights by Ben Anshaw are understated and elegant.
The set is the third character in this play. Designed by Isabella Andronos, it is detailed and dim and full of secret nooks and crannies. The dark wood and cloudy backdrop put us in mind of Harry Potter, and that is never a bad thing.
There were a few wobbles at the performance I saw, perhaps down to first night nerves. Once these get smoothed over however, the production will soar.
Season: 22 Nov – 10 Dec 2016: Tue – Sat 7:30pm & Sat 2pm
Alana Kaye – Theatre Now
22 Nov – 10 Dec 2016
Tue – Sat 7:30pm
Venue: Seymour Centre: Reginald Theatre
Theatre Company: Clock & Spiel Productions
Duration: 90 mins (no interval)
This brilliantly funny theatrical adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ classic masterpiece THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS follows the correspondence between a senior demon, Screwtape, and his nephew, a junior tempter named Wormwood, who must secure the damnation of a young man. A delicious insight into the frailties of human nature that will make you squirm in self-recognition.
“My dear Wormwood,” the letters begin, as we meet the spine-tingling and charming Screwtape, who signs off, “Your affectionate uncle.” Screwtape likes philosophy, admires history, and disdains science; he is so cultured that in one letter he talks about reading in the British Museum, so hip that in another he says how helpful it will be to make use of “the ‘Life Force,’ the worship of sex, and some aspects of Psychoanalysis.”
Five years after publishing “The Screwtape Letters,” Lewis appeared on the cover of Time with a devil on his shoulder. The novel was already one of his most popular works. Despite decades of expounding the same themes in lectures, radio addresses, sermons, and theological treatises, Lewis was never livelier than when he wrote of demons. No matter how many other ways he tried to write of faith, we still like hearing from the Devil best.
Group $39 (10 or more)
As part of a Kids Multipack x4 $28