Friday, May 20, 2011

Shadowlands Review

A full house thoroughly enjoyed - and in some cases wept along with - the Repertory Society's production of Shadowlands, which opened on Wednesday the 18th May at the Playhouse Theatre. The play presents the period in the life of the writer, C S Lewis, when, after many years of bachelorhood (and somewhat to his surprise), he fell in love with an American poet, Joy Gresham, and then had to suffer the pain of losing her to cancer within a few short years.

Natalie Ellis' direction of this often complex play, which not only shifts moods quickly, but also requires a number of shifts of scene, was excellent, and shows the value of long years of experience in the theatre.

Phil Cole and Denise Casey play C S (Jack) Lewis and Joy Gresham respectively, and both bring great subtlety to their demanding roles. The other major part, that of Major Lewis, Jack's brother, was played by Bert Nisbet with humour and warmth.

In the minor roles - and also acting as stagehands - were Bernie Crayston as the pompous Riley and Mike Crowl as the shallow Rev Harrington. Greg Brook played various small roles with aplomb while Andrew Cook and Rosemary Richards (also working backstage) appeared briefly as a doctor and a nurse.

Two boys, Andrew Hughes and Alexander Byars, share the role of Douglas, Joy Gresham's young son, and bring innocence and struggle in the face of death to their roles. Eli Gray-Smith presents piano music that evokes the 1950s and ably covers the changes of scene.

The production runs until Wednesday the 25th, with a matinee on Sunday the 22nd.
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