The 2016 national tour of William Nicholson’s Shadowlands, directed by Alastair Whatley, enjoyed its opening night on 18 February at Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, ahead of a national press night on Friday 26 February.
Denis Lill (Charles Vaughan, Survivors) is a late addition to the cast, taking on the role of Major W.H. Lewis ‘Warnie’, joining Stephen Boxer (C S Lewis), Amanda Ryan (Joy Davidman), Simon Shackleton (Professor Christopher Riley), Jeffrey Harmer (Rev ‘Harry’ Harrington), Ian Marr (Alan Gregg), Richard Holliday (Dr Maurice Oakley), Shannon Rewcroft (Douglas), with Holly Smith and Alistair Higgins playing multiple supporting roles.
Broadway World has published a gallery of promotional shots from the production.
Update, 2 March 2016: The touring production has secured an early glowing five-start review from the Guilford Dragon newspaper (23 February), whose theatre critic concludes:
The whole play is acted well and I don’t know who I would give the most credit to. Would it be: Stephen Boxer as Jack (CS Lewis), Amanda Ryan as Joy, Denis Lill as Warnie, Simon Shackleton as Christopher, Alastair Whatley – director or even William Nicholson as the writer. The stage set is minimalist but highly effective.
The whole combination worked for me. The story was brilliantly told, intellectually stimulating, humerous and naturally it was sad. Inevitably, highly emotional too. I thoroughly enjoyed my evening.
The Salisbury Journal review (1 March 2016) says of the Salisbury Playhouse run:
Finely acted, Stephen Boxer brought gravitas and humour to the role of CS Lewis who wrote the Narnia books and Christian apologetic novels like The Screwtape Letters, as well as non-fiction work.
Amanda Ryan, playing Joy Gresham, was wonderful as the archetypal American who blew the cobwebs away surrounding the comfortable existence of the scholar.
Her physical descent into frailty when she gets cancer is masterfully portrayed as is her patient manner with the reserved Lewis, who not only has to do battle with his emotions, and his faith, in realising he loves Joy but also, when he loses her.
Denis Lill, endearing as Warnie, is full of strength, concern and a hint of mischief.
The Southern Daily Echo review (2 March 2016) observes, of the Salisbury Playhouse run:
In difficult and emotionally demanding roles, Stephen Boxer as “Jack” Lewis and Amanda Ryan as Joy are both outstanding as the gentle lovers.
CS Lewis is a committed Christian, discovering love late in life, Stephen Boxer conveying brilliantly his agonies over traditional values clashing with his new-found affections.
Joy has been married before, to a violent alcoholic, moving to England for a new life. With a convincing Jewish New York accent, Amanda Ryan nails a beautiful mix between American can-do attitude and her cancer-ridden vulnerability.
As Lewis’s stalwart brother Warnie, Denis Lill is superb, his stiff-upper-lip softening as he helps Joy’s emotionally splintering son.