What it's about.
Shadowlands is a show about C.S. Lewis and Joy Gresham's love story. The play takes you from the beginning of their awkward friendship to their marriage, leading up to a tragic event.
Clear mind - That’s the way I walked into the Acorn Theatre preparing to see Shadowlands. Before I saw the show, I made sure I did not look it up on the internet or ask anyone if they had seen the play. In fact, I tried to forget I had to see the show, so I wouldn’t think about it so much. But when the day came, I entered that theatre to see a gloomy looking stage set with what seemed like windows on a building. My mind began to question and assume. I wondered if the play would be about a man feeling as though he’s living in a world through his window. I thought, “That’s a really pretty stained glass window, wonder if it has to do with church?”
The play was not what I created in my head. It began with C.S. Lewis in a monologue on suffering and how it was God’s “megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Silly ol’ me didn’t put it together at first that the actor was portraying C.S. Lewis. So, as I was sitting there listening to his monologue on how God doesn’t love us because he allows us to suffer, I felt like I was sitting in a lecture hall being scolded by a professor of philosophy. I couldn’t see that his speech would relate to the entire show. In the beginning, as C.S. Lewis and his friends were discussing the differences between men and women, the character Christopher was making these sexist comments that were bothering me to an extreme. I began laughing silently as Lewis would counter his comments with witty intellectual ones.
As I was introduced to Joy Gresham, I quickly realized this was a love story, one that would bring out wrenching emotion and tug at my heart strings. The reason I became so emotional was because I saw two true love stories in one, as I witnessed C.S. Lewis’ very own love story with Joy. The first love story I saw, as I watched C.S. Lewis frantic at the thought of losing Joy to cancer, was of a friend and his lover. Similarly to C.S. Lewis, a friend of mine loved a woman dearly, and faced the trial of losing her to cancer. I watched Lewis cripple at the words of the doctor saying that Joy’s cancer would ultimately be fatal, but I saw the very same scene in reality only months ago this year. I could feel the desperation in my heart as I saw not only Lewis but my friend as well. So coincidental that they both shared a similar love story; just like Lewis, he wasn’t even married to his love.
The second love I witnessed as I sat in the theatre with my heart all twisted into racing emotion was my own. In the play, Lewis would hold Joy’s hand to his mouth, kiss it tenderly, knowing the devotion he held for her. Lewis also had a hard time letting himself feel emotion. He didn’t even let Joy know of his love til she was on the hospital bed. I remember Lewis saying something like, "it takes for you to be in the hospital for me to come to my senses." The playful banter that Joy and Lewis would engage in made me feel so connected to their relationship, because it was so like my own. I couldn’t help but literally shed a tear as I saw them interact. I saw me and my boyfriend in them, especially at the end when Joy's health was deteriorating and she wanted to discuss how Lewis was going to feel when she passed.
But Lewis wanted to only think of the present. He only wanted to sit in her presence. She told him, “The pain then is part of the happiness now. That’s the deal.” Joy was telling Lewis that this feeling of paradise, the memories, they were all intertwined with the loss he would feel once she had gone. I suddenly understood how pain and happiness could go hand in hand in a relationship, and I had never thought of it that way before. We can accept the pain of a situation, but also feel joy from the memories of the past. We can accept the happiness in a situation, fully aware that there will be pain in the future. Shadowlands was not what I expected, however, what it became for me was a new perspective on life; Don’t waste your time hiding what you truly feel, for time is short. Treasure the ones you love.
- By Krystal O.
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