Monday, January 31, 2011

Review, Reflections and Ramblings in Relation to a Stage Production of The Screwtape Letters

This weekend I had the pleasure of seeing a stage production of C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters. As you might exspect from the fact that the book is a collection of letters from the demon Screwtape advising his nephew Wormwood on how to tempt his victim, the play was one long monologue. It was however, engaging and the silent roll of Screwtape's secretary demon, very similar in role to Prospero's Ariel, helped him mime much of the content of the letters to the audience. The letters were, for obvious reasons, condensed and my favorite line, "Now is the closest time to eternity", was cut, but if you enjoyed the book at all this dramatization didn't have any major changes.

I admit my favorable reception to the show might have been enhanced by the bright lights and the saxophonist playing outside the theatre, the warm San Diego January night, the ornate historic character of the building, and the incredilous fact that there was a giant pillow fight in front of Horton Plaza (No really. We drove by at the tail end of it. Feathers everywhere.)

Two observations:

1 --Aparantly there is talk of taking down the city library and building a newer, fancier one. This is blasphamy. First, because there are libraries all over the county being closed down due to budgets and second, becuase one of the things I love about visiting Down Town San Diego is the historic character of the buildings. Shiekh scyscrapers and penhouses and modern oficial buildings are all very well for New York or LA but I prefer standing in a place filled with the legacy of the past as well as the busy bustling of the present. Having the two alongside each other gives me a feeling of timlessness. A transendence of place and time and trends into simply experiencing the sensations of being aline. Something very similar to the experience of reading a book from the perspective of someone who is nothing like me in any tangible particular and yet who I can undersand and emphasise with perfectly.

2--There was a Q and A at the end of the performance that I didn't stay for. Screwtape had done such a lovely job of taking the audience into the bureaucracy of hell that I didn't fancy having the illustion shattered with an "explanation" of the play. The performance, like any piece of fiction, is better left to speak for itself.

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