Durham, N.C. — The theater adaptation of C.S. Lewis' "The Screwtape Letters" is coming to the Durham Performing Arts Center for two performances this Saturday.
The play follows the story of Screwtape, one of Hell's chief officers, as he instructs his nephew, Wormwood, how to best condemn his human subject. While this may seem anything but uplifting, the play is entertaining, engaging, and even humorous. In years past, "The Screwtape Letters" has played to sold-out shows in New York City, Chicago and Washington, D.C.
When I spoke to Max McLean, who created the role of Screwtape, about the play, he said it was meant to be thought-provoking and enjoyed by all audiences, regardless of religious beliefs.
"C.S. Lewis wrote to engage people's imaginations through the supernatural," he said.
In exploring themes that all humans face, such as love, pride, selfishness and duty, "The Screwtape Letters" is able to speak to audiences and readers over 70 years after it was originally published.
Lewis' sometimes scathing commentary on human nature through the eyes of someone (or something) nonhuman allows the audience to look back on their own lives and take something personal from the play. Max thinks that "The Screwtape Letters" has something to offer for everyone in the audience, and even for himself.
"After playing a devil so many times on stage, the play has actually had a good influence on me," Max said. "I've become more aware of my own bad tendencies, and now I can make an effort to have more purposeful prayer and live a better life."
This Saturday's performances will be held at 4 and 8 p.m. Tickets ($39-$89, with a special student price of $25) can be purchased online at Ticketmaster, at the DPAC box office or by the phone at 919-680-2787.