William Nicholson’s play Shadowlands is about the author C.S. Lewis and his love for the woman who became his second wife shortly before tragically dying of cancer. We first meet Lewis as he lectures to a theology group at university, outlining his concept of God, and the play follows him as he meets and marries American poet Joy Gresham.
Stephen Boxer is superb as Lewis, especially when the grief-stricken poet tries to reconcile his unhappiness with his belief in God, while Amanda Ryan is also excellent as the unconventional, somewhat brash but extremely likeable Joy. We follow the development of their relationship as they become friends, then marry (so that Joy can stay in England) and, finally, fall in love. However, tragedy strikes.
The set is traditional enough, portraying various cosy living rooms within an Oxford University setting, but there are some beautiful references to Lewis’s famous fictional world of Narnia as we see, in the distance, a lamppost in a snowy landscape. This intelligent play is deeply moving and well worth seeing.