'SHADOWLANDS' Play is a moving love story

The author referred to the world as the 'shadowlands.'
NILES -- "Shadowlands," which depicts the love affair of author C.S. Lewis with American poet Joy Gresham, is a true-life tear-jerker.
The play, which opened Friday at Trumbull New Theatre, follows Lewis as he meets, befriends and eventually marries an American fan while struggling to reconcile his Christian faith with the existence of pain and suffering.
Early in the performance, Lewis, played by TNT newcomer Roland Moore, refers to the world as we know it as the "shadowlands," because it is only a shadow of what is to come. Lewis believed that the suffering in this life prepares us for what is to come in the afterlife.
Lewis and his gentlemen friends, played by Jerry Kruse, Cleric Costes, Al McKinnon and Brian Lee, gather at a local pub frequently and engage in good-natured academic banter.
He and his brother, Warnie, played by Tom Tully, live in blissful bachelorhood until Joy Davidman, a fan and pen pal of Lewis' from America, played by TNT veteran Maureen Gregory, pays them a visit.
Lewis is painfully awkward about expressing his feelings for Davidman until tragedy strikes.Moore and Tully both pull off the proper, straight-laced poise of Englishmen during the play, without being dull or tedious. Gregory also does a good job of affecting the disliked attitude that Lewis' real-life love interest was said to have, while also giving a glimpse of what drew Lewis to her.
Lee is splendidly amusing as Lewis' curmudgeonly colleague, Christopher Riley, who is taken aback when Davidman responds unkindly to his offensive remarks and remains miffed throughout the play.
Most of the action takes place in Lewis' unkempt, book-cluttered living room where a wardrobe sitting in the center of the room is a constant reminder of a magical escape from reality, as in Lewis' "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe."
"Shadowlands," directed by Heather Fenstermaker, is a moving love story about coming to terms with pain and grief and the healing process after.
X"Shadowlands" plays at 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sept. 22-23 and at 3 p.m. Sept. 24 at Trumbull New Theatre. For ticket information, call (330) 652-1103.

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