Fellowship for the Performing Arts presents the Chicago premiere of the acclaimed hit drama The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis at The Mercury Theater. The production, which recently had sold-out runs in New York and Washington, D.C., begins performances on October 2 for a limited engagement. The Screwtape Letters offers a funny and provocative look into C.S. Lewis' brilliant novel that explores the theme of spiritual warfare from a demon's point of view.
Adapted for the stage by Jeffrey Fiske and Max McLean, The Screwtape Letters is set in an office in hell. The play follows a senior devil, Screwtape, and his secretary, Toadpipe, as they train an apprentice demon, Wormwood, on how to "undermine faith and prevent the formation of virtues" in a young man who has just converted to Christianity.
Critics have raved that the show is "A first rate production...Terribly entertaining... Screwtape boils over with wit" (Jayne Blanchard, The Washington Times), a "Hell of a good time...imaginative theatricality...wonderful performances" (Frank Scheck, New York Post), "Sly, funny, handsomely produced" (Celia Wren, Washington Post) and "A thought-provoking, engaging, entertaining, intelligent, bitingly satirical and funny exploration of profound issues of right and wrong," (Daniel Kelley, NYTheatre.com.)
When first published in 1942, The screwtape Letters brought immediate fame to C.S. Lewis, a little known Oxford don whose field of study was Medieval English and literature. Over the past sixty-five years its wit and wisdom have made it one of his most widely read and influential works. One of the intellectual giants of the twentieth century and arguably the most influential Christian writer of his day, C.S. Lewis was a Fellow and Tutor of English literature at Oxford University until 1954 when he was unanimously elected to the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance English at Cambridge University, a position he held until his retirement. His major contributions in literary criticism, children's literature, fantasy literature, and popular theology brought him international renown. He wrote more than thirty books, allowing him to reach a vast audience, and his works continue to attract millions of new readers every year. His most distinguished and popular accomplishments include: The Chronicles of Narnia, Out of the Silent Planet, and Mere Christianity.
The initial production of The Screwtape letters opened at Theatre 315 in New York City in January 2006 for a limited three-week run. Due to popular demand it ran for eleven sold-out weeks. After building on its success it reopened in the fall of 2007 at the Theatre at St. Clement's for another twelve sold-out weeks to rave reviews from audiences and critics alike. In April 2008 it transferred to The Shakespeare Theatre Company's Lansburgh Theatre in Washington, D.C. for a five week run. Again it played to sold out and standing room-only audiences.
The Screwtape Letters is directed by Jeffrey Fiske and stars Max McLean as Screwtape and Yvonne Gougelet as Toadpipe. Scenic design is by Cameron Anderson, costumes are by Michael Bevins, lighting by Tyler Micoleau, and sound is by Bart Fasbender. For more biographical or production information, visit www.ScrewtapeOnStage.com.
Theatergoers who buy four tickets to the show on Thursday evenings will receive a free dinner for four at Cullen's Bar & Grill, the restaurant connected to the theater. Available through February 12.