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Fringe Show Reviews

Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Screwtape

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C.S. Lewis’s satirical Christian novel The Screwtape Letters has been adapted for the stage many times since its publication in 1942. This time around, John D. Huston combines both the original novel with Lewis’s short sequel, Screwtape Proposes a Toast, weaving them together fluidly and ingeniously. Rather than just standing there reciting Lewis’s words, Huston and director Michael James Burgess have found and exploited the drama in Lewis’s text.

Huston, delighting in and savouring each syllable, makes Screwtape a very specific type of British bureaucrat, loquacious and verbose, but charming and elegant as well. Indeed, there is something almost subversive in Huston’s portrayal, for he has made Screwtape into something of a seductive figure. This ambivalence helps undercut the didacticism in Lewis’s text. At 75 minutes-plus, however, the play does feel overlong, and a sequence where Screwtape briefly metamorphoses into a centipede feels largely irrelevant to what follows.

— Ben Wiebe

 

From the Fringe program:

Director: Micheal J. Burgess

Cast: John D. Huston

John D. Huston (Kind Hearts and Coronets - *****, Underneath the Lintel - *****, Shylock - ****) returns in Screwtape based on C.S. Lewis's darkly funny "anti-sermon", The Screwtape Letters and Screwtape Proposes a Toast.

Screwtape, a Senior Devil in Hell's Lower-Archy, dictates a toast for the upcoming Tempters' Training College graduation, while multitasking advice to his incompetent nephew, Wormwood, a policy paper deadline and his own transformation into a centipede.

Audience Classification: Mature

Length: 75 mins.

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