Reviewed by Emma Gullon @midgetjones
Ever since it was first advertised, I was very intrigued to see Shadowlands by William Nicholson; having been interested in the Narnia series as a child, I wondered whether C.S (Jack) Lewis’s personal life was just mystical, it certainly did not disappoint.
The privatised affair between Lewis and American divorcee, poet Joy Davidman was funny, awkward at times but ultimately adorable. Joy’s son Douglas is just as reserved as the protagonists, with his head permanently buried in a Narnia, but would frequently engage in debates with Lewis about the series particularly The Magician’s Nephew, which was frequently referenced throughout the play. Historical context also played a major role- this true love story began at almost exactly the same time as King Edward’s infamous abdication so he could be with Wallis Simpson, which added to the cynicism of Lewis’s friends family and colleagues over Lewis and Joy’s ‘friendship’.
The set design of Shadowlands was subtly stunning- from large doors which opened up in much the same way as wardrobe doors open, to the ever changing scenery that the rest of the cast moved around, this all added to the fluidity and ‘magic’ that this story portrayed effortlessly. One scene that stood out for me the most was the backdrop; it would occasionally light up and show a very familiar lamp post surrounded by snow covered trees, offering the characters, particularly Lewis and Douglas, a form of escapism from the tragic situations that happen.
All in all, Shadowlands is a story of one of the world’s most famous authors as he learns the hard way how to step out of the wardrobe he built around himself and let his emotions out- as one of my favourite quotes of the performance says “the boy choses safety, the man choses suffering’.
Shadowlands is a Cast in Doncaster.
Friday 29th 7.30pm
Saturday 30th 2.30pm
Saturday 30th 7.30pm