At the core of William Nicholson's Shadowlands is a love story with undeniable staying power. World renowned writer and professor C.S. Lewis is unmarried and leads a gentleman's life filled with intellectual pursuits. When he begins correspondence with Joy Gresham Davidman, who possesses a strange candor and familiarity with Lewis, he becomes captivated by her outspokenness and warmth and agrees to a meeting. An unlikely friendship develops between the two and - as a character in his stories - Lewis's world is turned upside down as he experiences a love he's never known before. But as their romance deepens, a terrible twist of fate reveals a tragic truth for Lewis: a heart awakened to great love is made vulnerable to great pain.
A celebrated scholar, Lewis discovers that for almost every person of religious conviction, the most harrowing test of faith comes with the suffering and death of a loved one. He comes to realize the difficulty in believing in a just and kind God who allows innocent people to suffer. Yet it is precisely at the most difficult moments that religious belief can be most comforting. Though part of Lewis plainly believed that human pain somehow reflected the Almighty's benevolent hand, another part of him, the play argues, never could. His struggles with faith led him, as a younger man, to escape into writing the literature for which he is best remembered (including children's fables such as The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe), where, it is suggested, he devised a healing magic that he could not find in the everyday world.