by Lorie Lewis Ham
Shadowlands opened this past weekend at 2nd Space in Fresno, and will be continuing until October 11. I was excited when I first heard that Good Company Players would be doing this show, as I had seen the movie many years ago and loved it. This production did not disappoint!
The play tells the true story of an unusual love story between the famous English author C.S. Lewis and an American writer named Joy Gresham, née Davidman. C.S., or Jack as his friends called him, has a correspondence relationship with Joy for awhile before she tells him she is making a trip to Europe with her young son Douglas and would love to meet him. How this progresses from pen pal to dear friend, and then into something more, is a very compelling and sweet story, made even more interesting by the fact that it is true. We not only get to see this great man and confirmed bachelor fall in love for the first time, but we see the joys and tragedies of their sadly all too brief love affair. Joy ends up being very much Jack’s equal, never holding back on her opinions and calling Jack on some of his.
The dialogue in this play is wonderful, filled with wit, humor, and things that make you think. Jack’s relationship with his brother Warnie is a lot of fun to watch, as is his banter with his interesting group of intellectual friends. We get to see inside the mind of one of the great writers, and men of faith, of the past century. We also see his faith tested when Joy becomes ill.
Gordon Moore does a splendid job of bringing to life the character of C.S. Lewis, sharing with us the wide range of emotions Jack experiences in this story. We see Jack go from the logical, practical and wise author who seems to have everything in control, to seeing him experience real love for the first time and not quite knowing what to do with it, and then his grief. Jeff Dinmore is a delight as Warnie Lewis, and Ben Spain is adorable as the young Douglas. Julie Lucido plays the complex and brave Joy wonderfully. Julie and Gordon also have perfect chemistry. You are quickly drawn into this amazing and heartwarming story.
There’s also a fun bit with the set that pays homage to C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and references and quotes from some of his other books, which is great fun for any C.S. Lewis fan.
It you are looking for something different, something that will take you on a wonderful roller coaster ride of emotions, that will make you laugh and cry, that will make you think, and give you insight into one of the great minds, do not miss Shadowlands! This is an absolutely wonderful show–one of the best ones I’ve seen this year.
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