by Always Narnian
Have you ever wondered what it would have been like to meet the author CS Lewis? An Evening with CS Lewis is a stage production starring British actor David Payne that allows you to take a peek into the life of this talented and famous writer.
The show is set in the year 1963 and the audience is meant to be a group of American writers that have come to visit Lewis in his home. The show begins with David Payne, entering as Lewis, carrying a tray with a teapot on it. At one point he quips: “You Americans drink iced tea, don’t you? How strange.” According to the show, Lewis was “born at a very early age.”
It included the retelling of how Lewis came up with his own nickname, ‘Jacksie,’ and how this later evolved into him being called ‘Jack.’ He spoke of the holidays he and his brother would go on (one time even visiting France) and about his old home, Little Lea, and how full of books it was. Jack was encouraged by his parents to read. His childhood was not all happy, however, as he spoke of his mother’s death and his unsatisfactory experiences with boarding school at the age of nine. After moving to another school, Lewis made the philosophical choice to believe that there was not a God, and he was somehow angry about His nonexistence.
The next few subjects covered included: Lewis’ experiences in the trenches during World War I, his position as Tutor at Magdalen College, and his meeting of J.R.R. Tolkien at a play. Tolkien went on to write The Lord of the Rings, and, prior to its publishing, Lewis had the honor of hearing the majority of it read to him. Tolkien had become a vital part of Lewis’ life, for there was a certain occasion in which he and a man by the name of Hugo Dyson spoke to Lewis about the story of Christ. This particular conversation had a great influence upon Lewis, and it was soon after it that he came to believe in Jesus Christ. Lewis became less popular among his colleagues at the college when he began focusing on religion. Though you have perhaps heard Lewis’ conversion story countless times, this show will bring it even more alive in your memory and with a fresh appreciation one cannot always receive from reading.
The story of how Narnia came about was amusing: Lewis had begun to read part of his story to Tolkien when he told Lewis he had heard all that he wanted to hear! Tolkien’s critiques discouraged Lewis so much that he almost threw away the draft of it later on. However, he began reading it again and became interested, deciding to send it to his publisher. This was the incident that brought about The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
I felt like one of the main focuses of the act was the marriage of Jack to his wife, Joy. He spoke about how they began writing letters after she had read The Screwtape Letters and about her visits with Lewis while she was in England. He went on to tell what their relationship was like and how they were married. It interested me, as this was probably an area about Lewis I did not know much about. It is a simple love story and you will find yourself intrigued, moved, and entertained by this tale of Jack and Joy.
From humour to philosophy, from history to religion, David Payne takes you through the different stages of Lewis’ life in such a way that you leave feeling as if you know Lewis better than before. Mr Payne has done an excellent job selecting certain topics to include in his An Evening With CS Lewis, as there are so many fascinating facts about Lewis to explore and only such a little time to do it. However, I would have preferred to hear a little bit more about Narnia!
An Evening with CS Lewis is a breathtaking event for any Lewis fan and even an enjoyable watch for those who may not be very familiar with the author. Payne’s portrayal of Lewis was stunning and I nearly had to remind myself that he was an actor! If you have the opportunity to view this show in your area, I encourage you not to miss out on such a chance! An Evening with CS Lewis is an experience that will satisfy your curiosity or your appreciation for the life of this beloved author.