Shadowlands by William Nicholson, adapted by Archie Scottney

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Shadowlands on BBC Radio 4

BBC Radio 4 Extra, 17 November 2013
I have to admit somewhat shamefacedly that I have never come across Shadowlands before in any of its incarnations - on television, on stage or in the cinema.
On hearing Rosalind Ayres' revival (first broadcast in 2009 and repeated to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Lewis' death), I understood that perhaps one of the major reasons for its transmedial success is in its strength of characterization.  C. S. Lewis (Martin Jarvis) came across as something of a prig, a celebrated academic and broadcaster with a strong religious faith, but with little experience of the outside world.  Once he encountered Joy Gresham (Joanne Whalley), his character began to change, but it was only when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer that he began to understand himself and his relationship to others.  By the end of the play he discovered something about his faith, and in the process revaluated his relationship to the Deity.
The play also contains some strong supporting characters: Lewis' brother "Warnie" (Kenneth Danziger) came across as a supportive type, but totally lacking in worldliness.  He could not face up to the face that once Lewis and Joy had married, his place in the Lewis household might be under threat.  Professor Riley (aka Chris) (Julian Holloway) was so concerned to win verbal discussions that he had little time for anyone except his fellow-academics.  Although he treated Joy with due respect as Lewis' wife, he could never bring himself to like her.
In this production, however, the acting honours were taken by Jarvis himself, who gave a towering central performance as Lewis.  On several occasions he tried to cover up his emotional inadequacies with gruff banter, but as the action came to a climax he understood the necessity of expressing his emotions.  His little exchange with Joy's son Douglas (Zach Callison) towards the end was the highlight of the entire revival.|  Although Lewis might not have come across as a sympathetic character, we could at least understand the emotional journey he had completed.