Shadowlands: William Nicholson (1989)

Shadowlands

★★★★★

(Chichester Festival Theatre, until 25 May 2019, directed by Rachel Kavanaugh)

C.S. ‘Jack’ Lewis is a confirmed bachelor. He and his big brother Warnie, a retired army major, live in comfortable companionship in a cottage in Headington near Oxford. Jack teaches English Literature at the University, at Magdalen, and gives popular lectures on how to square a profound Christian faith with the pain and suffering in the world. These are intellectual discussions – despite losing his mother at a young age, Jack has enjoyed an adult life which has protected him from the extremes of emotion. He lives in a world of scholarly, dusty bachelors; he enjoys intellectual sparring matches with his colleagues over sherry before Hall; and, to his academic friends’ amusement, he writes a series of popular children’s stories in his spare time. But Jack’s quiet, reserved existence undergoes profound change when he strikes up a correspondence with the spirited American writer Joy Gresham. English reserve, love and tragedy, faith, hope and loss come together in a gut-wrenching modern classic, currently showing at Chichester Festival Theatre with a magnificent central performance from Hugh Bonneville.

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