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Theater review: C.S. Lewis’ ‘Screwtape Letters’ is devilish fun

Published: Thursday, March 28 2013 8:03 p.m. MDT

The stage adaptation of C.S. Lewis' "The Screwtape Letters" is written and directed by Max McLean. For most of the last five years, McLean also played the production's title character; now Brent Harris has taken over the lead role.

Gerry Goodstein

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“The Screwtape Letters,” Fellowship for the Performing Arts, Kingsbury Hall, March 23.

Based on the C.S. Lewis book of the same name, the Fellowship for the Performing Arts’ stage adaptation of “The Screwtape Letters” conjured theatrical magic during its one-day stay in Salt Lake City.

For 90 minutes, only two characters inhabited the stage: the wily devil Screwtape (Brent Harris) and his groveling assistant, Toadpipe (Beckley Andrews). There was no intermission, and much of the dialogue came straight from the book an Irish-born Lewis wrote in 1942.

Despite the confluence of challenging circumstances that easily could’ve proved disastrous in lesser hands, this adaptation of “Screwtape Letters” felt fresh, urgent and three-dimensional. Much of that momentum was attributable to Harris, whose energy level never wavered even as the emotional stability of Screwtape began to fluctuate.

Creative lighting and staging helped ameliorate the fact that only two characters were on the stage throughout — and of those two, only Screwtape was capable of speaking coherent lines.

Throughout April, the touring show of “The Screwtape Letters” will visit Lincoln, Neb.; Modesto, Calif.; Los Angeles; and Colorado Springs, Colo.

This article refers to the 4 p.m. performance of “The Screwtape Letters” on March 23.

Jamshid Ghazi Askar is a graduate of BYU's J. Reuben Clark Law School and member of the Utah State Bar. Contact him at jaskar@desnews.com or 801-236-6051.

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