I have 7 plays lined up the coming months, but I doubt any of them will come even close to Shadowlands, which I saw yesterday.
Shadowlands tells the story of C.S. Lewis (writer of Narnia), a confirmed bachelor into his fifties, until he meets Joy, a witty, intelligent American woman who has been writing to him because she is a fan of his books. It is an incredibly tender and touching story, which shows that love is unpredictable and powerful.
Charles Dance (Bleak House, Gosford Park and longer ago he played the villain in The Golden Child with Eddy Murphy) plays C.S. “Jack” Lewis and he swept me off my feet. What a fantastic actor and what a performance, he got me hooked from the second he stepped into the light.
“Jack” reminded me a lot of Lawrence. Both the way the character was defined: shy, somewhat clumsy around women, very witty, very intelligent, very charming, a gentleman who is very lovable. But he also had the physical characteristics: tall (1.91 = Lawrence + 3cm), lean. lanky, beautiful voice, in his 50’s, indulging British accent and rock legs. It was such a treat to watch him Dance around on stage. I also realized that tall actors somehow have a body language that suits playing shy and clumsiness perfectly.
The story is both very witty and very tragic. When Jack at last finds love in his life, it doesn’t last long. He marries her and spends 3 years with Joy until she dies of cancer.
Some noticeable lines from this play that will stay with me:
“Why love, if losing hurts so much?”
“The pain now is part of the happiness then. That’s the deal. ”
And how could anybody say no to a marriage proposal like this:
“Will you marry this foolish, frightened old man… who needs you more than he can bear to say… who loves you, even though he hardly knows how? ”
I laughed and I cried, and I was so touched by this story.
When I started writing on my short film script a year ago, at first I wanted to write a story about this exact theme:
“What would you do if you could experience the love of your life but only for a limited time?”
I stopped writing it, because I couldn’t bear it.
What would you do?
(Shadowlands has also been made as a film with Anthony Hopkins as Jack. Both Anthony Hopkins and the film won a BAFTA.)
I can only urge you to see this play, the acting is extraordinary, the set is too. If you are able to make it to London before the 15th of December then don’t miss it. I might see it again myself.
Update: I did see it again on the 6th of November, and cried even more this time. This is a play you don’t want to miss, and it is easily the best play you will see on the West End this year. Go see it. It’s magical.