Mustard Seed Theatre is performing one of my all-time favorite works tonight: Shadowlands, the incredible play that became a movie starring Anthony Hopkins as our favorite Narnian, C.S. Lewis.
I must admit I've never heard of Mustard Seed Theatre before, but that's generally because I can't afford to attend live theater nearly as often as I'd like. Long-time readers know that in my previous existence, I was an actress (not a good one), playwright and stage director (marginally better). I directed several plays and produced a few more, and something like Shadowlands stirs up my long-buried wish to tread the boards.
Shadowlands is the story of the real C.S. Lewis, a confirmed British bachelor and Oxford don who met, married and fell in love with an American writer named Joy Gresham (in that order). Gresham was a writer of some note, though her legacy has mostly been relegated to "C.S. Lewis's wife." The movie, which also starred Debra Winger as Gresham, was a marvelously understated love story and a testament to the power of a shared passion, not just for each other, but for the written word. Lewis' brother wrote of her, "Joy was the only woman whom he had met... who had a brain which matched his own in suppleness, in width of interest, and in analytical grasp, and above all in humour and a sense of fun."
After her death, Lewis wrote his most raw and personal book, A Grief Observed, which at first Lewis released under a pseudonym because of its intense emotional nature. His own friends kept recommending his own book to him because of the depth of his grief, and thus he made his authorship known. He went on to raise her two sons himself.
I am further interested in Mustard Seed Theatre because they are offering tonight's performance as a "Pay With a Can" night. Your admission is a canned good for local food pantries, or pay what you can. Considering tickets are usually $20, this is an excellent deal, and one I am tempted to try myself, if I can dig myself out of my apartment.
Shadowlands is directed by Deanna Jent and stars Gary Wayne Barker as Lewis, Kelley Ryan as Gresham and Richard Lewis as Lewis' brother Warnie. The show runs through Feb. 13. Find out more at their website.