Back to Article
 
 

GC REVIEW: The Screwtape Letters

  2010-05-17
 

The Screwtape Letters

Adapted by Jeffrey Fiske and Max McLean

Directed by Jeffrey Fiske

 

I have no intention of explaining how the correspondence, which I now offer to the public, fell into my hands.

There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.

Readers are advised to remember that the devil is a liar. Not everything that Screwtape says should be assumed to be true, even from his own angle.

There is wishful thinking in Hell as well as on Earth.

C.S. Lewis

July 5, 1941

 

By Rhonda Ridley

As a fan of C.S.Lewis, I was on edge with anticipation to see “The Screwtape Letters.” I’ve never read the book, but every author that I highly respect tends to quote him quite often. One thing is certain though, whether you take the perspective of Screwtape literally or generally, you will leave the theater thinking quite differently about your Christian walk in relation to sin.

There’s a power behind the writing of C.S. Lewis that, for me, brings his words to life. I become envious of the language of that time because is speaks so smothly, swiftly and effectively into my heart. Every aspect of life juxtaposed to the Christian walk, becomes a beautiful canvass for C.S. Lewis and “The Screwtape Letters” is no different.

This play is simply “Remarkable, Brilliant, thought provoking and highly intense.”

Concentrated on a young Christian soldier at war, only known as, The Patient,  high ranking demon Screwtape (Max McLean),is passionately advising his nephew Wormwood, a lower demon on how to step this young man over to the side of sin in the most tempting yet effective way. His desire is to lull the patient away from God, known here as the enemy.

The letters to Wormwood are crafted on stage by Screwtapes flexible and maniacal assistant, Toadpipe wonderfully played by (Karen Eleanor Wight).

It was quite powerful to see how Screwtape advised Wormwood based on our human pride, ego and the Law of Undulation; our human peaks and valleys over each and every phase of our lives, to use gradual steps to lure the patient Screwtape advises, because this way becomes much more enjoyable and the patient’s sense of guilt from walking away from his Christian faith results in shame, confusion and fear in his heart.

During this gradual process Wormwood is advised to attack the patient’s desire to be gluttonous, his prayer life, which Screwtape reminds Wormwood is a very dangerous practice for humans to indulge; he is never to allow the patient to trust in prayer. He is to, instead, force him to be content with worldliness and never allow him to place causes and values above himself. He is to always think of himself first. Wormwood must be aggressive when persuading the patient that his vague emotional mood is acceptable. Even have him doubt in the church he attends so that he begins to search for other churches; thereby making him a taster or connoisseur of church; in other words, a critic of churches.

Once given into his contented worldliness, the patient will then turn from the enemy’s truth about love and give into his own pleasures. His religion then becomes moderated. According to Screwtape, a moderated religion is just as powerful as no religion at all. Here is where you will compromise your faith in order to be accepted. You will surround yourself with the things in life that make you comfortable and never acknowledge your sin or correct the sin of those around you. Screwtape says Wormwood’s assignment must become so safe and tolerable of this moderated religion that nothing ever comes into question.

Even though shame, pride, vanity and doubt shall become a way of life for the patient, no one cares, prays for him or supports his Christian faith.

It’s now that Wormwood reports back to his uncle that nothing is working. The patient is still loving the enemy and His ways, going to church and praying.

Fearing wormwood’s failure with “The Patient,” Screwtape’s now concerned about how he will get his nourishment; the purpose of forcing sin is simply so those in hell can reconstruct human minds and absorb human will into theirs and take his soul and give him back nothing! He will become their food!

So, with nothing else to attack, Screwtape resorts to advising Wormwood to now attack another area of love for humans; marriage. If marriage is a desire for the patient, Wormwood is to misdirect the patient; make admire her body, her walk, her pedigree and play on his sexual taste towards her, thereby creating a very poor and unhappy marriage.

There should be no compatibility between the two; they will then marry for superficial intellectual reasons. Unfortunate for Screwtape and Wormwood, the patient falls in love and marries a Christian woman. They are in love with the enemy and bypasses all of Wormwood’s attacks of temptation. Displeased but still aggressively on task, Screwtape tells Wormwood to continue to attack the patient. He advises him to get him before anything happens to him while at war and his soul goes with the enemy.

As quickly as it begins is as quickly as it comes to an abrupt end. Wormwood writes a final letter and it is the contents of that final letter that forces Screwtape to acknowledge his purpose, who he truly is and what he’s capable of accomplishing compared to the enemy.

See if you agree.

C.S. Lewis The Screwtape Letters is a MUST SEE!!!!! Go as fast as you can.

 

Performances are held at The Westside Theatre, 407 West 43rd Street, New York, and the schedule for THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS is as follows: Mondays and Tuesdays at 7pm, Wednesday Matinee at 2pm, Fridays at 8pm , Saturdays 4pm and 8pm at and Sundays at 3pm and 7pm. Tickets range in price from $20 to $95. There are a limited number of $20 student rush tickets that can be purchased day of each performance at the box office. A valid Student ID must be presented. To purchase tickets, call 212.239.6200 or visit www.telecharge.com.

More information is available at www.ScrewtapeOnStage.com .