Shadowlands (1989): William Nicholson



(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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Henry VI: Parts 1, 2 and 3 (1591): William Shakespeare

The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses

Shakespeare fans rejoice! As part of the Bard’s 400th birthday celebrations, the BBC have embarked on the second cycle of their dramatisations of the history plays. Back in 2012 we had Henry IV and Henry V with Jeremy Irons and Tom Hiddleston at the helm and now we embark on the most tumultuous and bloody period of British history: the Wars of the Roses. With three parts of the lesser-known Henry VI condensed into two episodes, the present cycle will round off in style with Richard III. As I did last time with Henry IV, I’ll write about both parts of Henry VI here and Richard will get his own post. And so, to steal shamelessly from another play, once more unto the breach…

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