Boy was I glad I did! The play that I went to see, Shadowlands, performed by the Lamplighters Theater in Smyrna, TN, was excellent. This played is an adaption from the movie, Shadowlands, and is based on the story of C.S. Lewis and his relationship with Joy Davidman.
The performance was truly moving, following the bittersweet friendship and love of the acclaimed Christian author and Joy. Joy and Lewis had been corresponding through letters, and when Joy, and American, comes to England and meets Lewis, a spark of friendship and deep understanding is kindled. They begin to fall in love with one another, but C.S. Lewis, a bachelor in his 50's, is cautious to admit his affection for her. When Joy tragically discovers that she has incurable cancer, Lewis is forced to confront the painful reality that true love always involves suffering. The prospect of losing her impels Lewis to declare his love and marry her. In the end, loss and heartache are inevitable, but the story testifies to the reality that true love is stronger than death.
The actor who played did an excellent job and really brought the character to life. It was fascinating to see how the theme's in Lewis' life corresponded with his thought and writing. It was also moving to see how Lewis was forced to grapple with the themes that he wrote on; pain and suffering, love and life, in concrete and heart wrenching ways.
Perhaps two things that struck me most were the way that God surprised and delighted C.S. Lewis by bringing Joy into into his life after he thought all hope of love and romance had passed him by. Their love was so deep and real, that even though they only had three short years together, they lived those years to the full, and that love changed them forever.
It also struck me how the theme of redemptive suffering was a constant thread throughout -- that it is through life's inevitable pain that our Father molds us. As C.S. Lewis says, in his works and in the play,
"We're like blocks of stone, out of which the sculptor carves the forms of men. The blows of his chisel, which hurt us so much, are what make us perfect. The suffering in this world is not the failure of God's love for us; it is that love in action. For believe me, this world that seems to us so substantial is no more than the shadlowlands. Real life has not begun yet."
What a beautifully challenging Lenten reflection. Thanks to Lamplighter's Theater for such a provoking and moving performance!