Theatre Review: Shadowlands

25 Jan

Author: William Nicholson

Directed by: Michael Barker-Caven

Plot: Charles Dance stars in this first major revival of the acclaimed Shadowlands by William Nicholson. This intensely, moving play charts the extraordinary true love story between C.S. Lewis and Joy Gresham, played by award-winning actress Janie Dee. Famous in his day as a scholar and a broadcaster, he is perhaps best known today as the author of the classic books ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’. A confirmed bachelor into his fifties, he met and married this remarkable American woman, known for her outspoken views and acerbic wit, and their astonishing story has become a testament to the unpredictable nature of love and its enduring legacy.

I just loved the film version of Shadowlands. I bawled like a baby and was inconsolable for some time and it further strengthened my admiration for Anthony Hopkins. So it was with a lot of enthusiasm when I finally got to book a ticket to see this production at the Novello Theatre tonight.

Charles Dance (Gosford Park, Bleak House) was simply put, truly amazing in this production. I remember having a huge crush on the man when I saw him play Erik the Phantom in the 90’s and have tried to watch most of his films on video and now I am actually just a few feet away from him. By the time this review has been uploaded, the Critics Circle Theatre Awards hailed Dance as Best Actor for his role as C.S. Lewis (aka Jack) and most deservingly so. Janie Dee was just as impressive as Joy Gresham.

The following are very thought-provoking quotations from the production just as I remember them; “Why love, if losing hurts so much?” Can’t help but ponder on this one and was wanting to mull over it a bit and yet here comes another powerful line. “The pain now is part of the happiness then. That’s the deal.” I suppose this is true for every love found and then eventually lost. But this knocks it all off for me: “Will you marry this foolish, frightened old man… who needs you more than he can bear to say… who loves you, even though he hardly knows how?”

There was hardly a dry face in the audience, if the play or the film doesnt move you even to shed a tear or two, I wonder what youre made of.

Shadowlands: 4/5

Playing at the Novello Theatre until 23 February 2008.

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