The Buzz

Want to receive updates by email? Sign up here

Screwtape-on-stageC.S. Lewis’ unique take on the demonic underworld is experiencing a revival of sorts in theaters across the country. Based on The Screwtape Letters—the 1942 fiction work that elevated the Oxford University professor to celebrity status—Screwtape on Stage features the talents of Max McLean, who portrays the demon Screwtape teaching the novice tempter, Wormwood, by means of letter writing.

Adapted and directed by Jeff Fiske and Max McLean, the presentation from the classic novel by Lewis—also author of “The Chronicles of Narnia” and Mere Christianity—has sold out in multiple cities and was performed more than 300 times at New York City’s West Side Theatre. Told from the senior demon’s point of view, the play features McLean corresponding with Wormwood, a demon in training learning to tempt his “patient” on Earth. God is known as “the enemy” and Satan as “our Father below.”

Douglas Gresham, Lewis’ stepson and the executor of his estate, approved the show’s script and called it “a breathtaking performance.” The Wall Street Journal called it “wickedly witty,” and The New York Times said: “The devil has rarely been given his due more perceptively and eruditely.”

When published, the book brought Lewis considerable media attention, leading to three years of BBC radio talks, and five years later he graced the cover of Time magazine. Screwtape on Stage remains true to Lewis’ spiritual warfare classic with “97-98 percent” of what was on stage directly from the book, said McLean, adding that Lewis’ purpose was to “expose the darkness.”

Screwtape is accompanied on stage by Toadpipe, a grotesque character who acts as his assistant by taking dictation and delivering Screwtape’s letters by way of something that looks like a bank delivery tube ascending to earth. Played by either Tamala Bakkensen or Beckley Andrews, Toadpipe skillfully assumes various postures or characters in response to Screwtape’s dictation.

Screwtape wears a fanciful red jacket throughout most of the show, though at the end he dons a more military-style jacket and white gloves. In his dictation, he covers topics such as pride, “the painful subject of prayer,” church-going, courtship and fashion, and speaks of the failure of hell’s intelligence department to “find out what he [God] is up to.”

With few props, the set has a backdrop of skulls and bones, the designer having visited and been inspired by the Catacombs, McLean said to his Orlando, Fla., audience in a post-show Q-and-A session. Music plays a role, too, once with pop star Madonna’s “Material Girl” among the tunes heard in the background.

Just as the Scriptures refer to Satan as a prowling lion seeking to devour, “human souls are the nourishment for demons in hell; we’re part of their food chain,” McLean said. But when Wormwood's “patient” opts to follow Christ, Screwtape prepares, alternatively, to consume his novice demon.

Asked in the after-session about his ability to memorize 90 minutes of material, McLean said he learned it “one line at a time,” noting that is the “minimal requirement for the [actor’s] job” He has also performed the Gospel of Mark and Genesis live on stage.

As president and artistic director of Fellowship for the Performing Arts, McLean aims to produce theater from a Christian worldview that engages a diverse audience, believing that “the canon of Christian literature has been relatively unexplored.” The Fellowship is also planning a performance adapted from Lewis’ The Great Divorce. For more information on Screwtape, visit ScrewtapeOnStage.com.

Best Magazine Deal. Subscribe now and get 3 magazines for the price of 1. Get Charisma, SpiritLed Woman and Ministry Today, all for $24. YES - I want this deal!

3 Reasons Why you should read Life in the Spirit. 1) Get to know the Holy Spirit. 2) Learn to enter God's presence 3) Hear God's voice clearly! Click Here to draw closer to God!

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
View/Add Comments
  • Roadblock

    6 Roadblocks That Will Stop Your Spiritual Growth

    God wants you to grow in your faith, but many of us get stuck along the way.

  • 2017 is the year that swords will clash.

    Prophetic Word: 2017 Will Bring a Clashing of Heaven and Hell

    "This is a time to cross over and not pull back."

  • Inner Healing Is the Fruit of the Spirit

    Inner Healing Is the Fruit of the Spirit

    I have been puzzled about the subject of inner healing for some time.

  • Bishop Eddie Long died at 63.

    Bishop Eddie Long Dead at 63

    "Although his transition leaves a void for those of us who loved him dearly, we can celebrate ...

  • The devil will try to silence you in any way he can. Don't give him the satisfaction.

    Satan's 2 Most Potent Lies to Render You Ineffective

    There's something in you so powerful that Satan doesn't want it out. Kyle Winkler reveals ...

  • Cindy Jacobs

    2017: Year of the Breakthrough

    "There will be a significant increase in miracles and signs and wonders."

  • Foot washing

    Shaking the Gates of Hell With a Basin of Water and a Towel

    "When I saw His foot, I knew He had come to take back territory the enemy had stolen from His ...

  • Growing relationship

    2017 Prophetic Word: The Supernatural Key to Growing Your Relationship With God

    It's vital that we understand what comes from God and what comes from the devil.

  • Are you willing to volunteer for God's offensive army?

    Prophetic Word: Preparing for God's World War 3

    God is searching for soldiers of the cross who are willing to volunteer for His offensive army.

  • Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Follow God on the most fulfilling journey of your life with Encounter the Holy Spirit! Break away from past hurts and press into the One who wants a personal encounter with you.

  • Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Reach your full potential and be led by His Spirit. In His Presence takes you to a deeper understanding of who God is and how he communicates with us.

  • Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Receive the power and gifts that come through the Holy Spirit Baptism. Don’t go empty-handed; accept all that He has for you! His power is available to those who ask.

  • Put on the Full Armor of God

    Put on the Full Armor of God

    Break every stronghold with the power of the Holy Spirit. Use the power of your tongue to declare and decree the Word of God. Witness heaven move on your behalf.

Use Desktop Layout
Charisma Magazine — Empowering believers for life in the Spirit