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C.S. Lewis On Stage: The Most Reluctant Convert

From 17 critic and 85 member reviews
Members say: Intelligent, Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Slow

About the show

Fellowship for Performing Arts presents a one-man bio-show chronicling C.S. Lewis' journey from atheism to devout Christianity. More…

Playwright/performer Max McLean embodies the author and talks about the experiences that shaped his life, including the death of his mother, his estranged relationship with his father, and other events that transformed him from vigorous debunker into the most eloquent Christian intellectual of the 20th century.

Epoch Times

“McLean masterfully embodies British novelist, literary critic, and scholar Lewis…As the title makes clear, Lewis eventually came to his conversion begrudgingly, though McLean’s performance makes clear the great contentment and wonder he felt when he finally got there...McLean wonderfully embodies Lewis, presenting him as a fully formed individual. The character speaks in clear, genial tones and sounds like a welcoming professor inviting his listeners to come in and hear his latest lecture." Full Review

The Weekly Standard

“A smart production…McLean delivers a performance that is worthy of its subject: learned, trenchant, wry, honest, and humane…The play captures the complexity of Lewis's struggle to believe, yet avoids the clichés and sanctimony that usually attend religious biographies…'C.S. Lewis on Stage' delivers something truly novel in modern theater: a story about an immensely creative mind, through reason and imagination, arriving at the threshold of faith.” Full Review


"For those looking for an evening of escapist entertainment, the relentlessly intellectual 'C.S. Lewis On Stage: The Most Reluctant Convert' will have a less than winning effect. It becomes an exercise in patience to follow the reasoning of a supremely academic and highbrow mind, as it tries to convey, or reconstruct, its conversion from atheism to religious belief, following a new and 'ravenous' interest in the 'occult.'" Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

“Drawing from several sources, McLean keeps the text pretty much strictly to the thematic point…FPA is at least as much about storytelling as spreading the word, and as such, the narrative is compelling because Lewis’s words are so elegantly crafted, and McLean’s fairly powerful presence is a good match for replicating Lewis’s public persona...Nothing proselytizes as effectively as a good show that eschews open proselytizing.” Full Review

Stage Buddy

"Far from what you might expect in a play with only one character and setting, 'The Most Reluctant Convert' doesn’t feel limited in its action...It’s a great credit to McLean and his artistic team that, in a play that’s really just one long monologue, the audience never gets bored or restless. That being said, audience members may find themselves briefly zoning out from time to time...No matter how many times the audience zones out, McLean always brings them back." Full Review

New York Critic Blog

"Mr. McLean is a very fine actor. His work is precise and meticulous. He gives us all the variety he can find in his stage life...'The Most Reluctant Convert' is an inspired script, and the intellectual workout is masterfully executed. But although the show engages us intellectually, it fails to capture our emotions. Mr. McLean is adept at indicating a new thought, but he too seldom indicates a new emotion." Full Review


"Primarily lives in this intellectual space, serving as more of an exercise in philosophical reasoning than a theatrical event. McLean does do justice to Lewis' highly theatrical manner...But the play essentially amounts to a 75-minute presentation on Lewis' step-by-step journey from atheism to Christianity...It may not make for an evening of deep emotional catharsis, but your powers of introspection, logical reasoning, and metaphysical theorizing will get a good workout." Full Review

Reflections in the Light

"'The Narnia Chronicles' and 'The Screwtape Letters' have been a source of growth for Christians and conversations with nonbelievers for decades, so it's always great to see this type of work highlighted on a New York Stage...It's pretty dry, even if you are interested in the Christian perspective of Lewis' conversion. McLean's heavily accented voice develops a cadence that tends to lull...But again, it is a blessing to be able to have this kind of faith-based theater offering in New York." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"McLean delivers a mannered performance employing what is almost a parody of an educated British accent...And there is an irritating over-reliance on the use of projections...One feels justified in asking, Are we discussing the existence of God or are we playing a video game? Further gilding the lily is Gromada's original music...pieces that add another level of artificial sweetness to the proceedings. Really, Lewis' words, the elegance of his argument, should be enough." Full Review

Chicago Sun-Times

for a previous production "McLean chronicles the writer’s journey from determined atheist to Christian believer with such wit, grace, braininess and economy that those on either side of the 'God spectrum' are sure to delight in it...A masterful actor, he instantly convinces you that you are in the presence of C.S. Lewis himself...It is an exercise in questioning the very essence of what it means to be alive. And you can remain an avid doubter even as you enjoy its bristling, provocative, highly entertaining arguments." Full Review

DC Metro Theater Arts

for a previous production "A one-man play about an influential, world-class thinker that’s every bit as smart, fascinating, and satisfying as the best such solo performances seen in this town...Its most pivotal events are mental. And their dramatic momentum amounts to some amazing moments on stage and in one’s own mind. Max McLean performs impressively as C.S. Lewis...With warmth and candor, McLean gives us a Lewis that immediately draws us in...The conversion story in 'C.S. Lewis Onstage' is captivating." Full Review

Chicago Critic

for a previous production "McLean has a knack for explaining complex theology and philosophy with subtly and self-depreciating humor. He easily takes us into Lewis’ world as he stimulates us into processing tough concepts. Talent, pace and acting skill keep us involved…This show is for fans of C. S. Lewis, for those who enjoy a ‘thinking-person’s’ play, and for anyone who enjoys a tour-de-force performance. Actors need to see Max McLean to learn how to make subtle and complex material sizzle on stage." Full Review

LA Splash

for a previous production "The choice of textual material from Lewis’ writings is masterful: a surprisingly full portrait of this emotionally rich human being’s life is delivered in the 70-minute performance. Witty, warm, erudite, and very funny in a delightfully self-deprecatory way, the personality of this remarkable man comes forth as Mclean strides the stage...This performance is entertaining, stimulating, and mentally enriching-highly recommended." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

for a previous production "It's only about 75 minutes, but that's about the right length for what is part biographical sketch, part monologue...For Lewis, becoming a Christian wasn't about the afterlife...In one of the more amusing moments of an involving few minutes in the theater, McLean, who really does look and sound a lot like his man, spits out what Lewis thought about that: 'a bribe.' Speak for yourself, Clive, but you have a solid professional speaking for you, reminding us that your ideas abide." Full Review

Around The Town Chicago

for a previous production "In a series of vignettes representing different times in his life, Lewis takes us through his personal journey from the Church of Ireland of his childhood to a young man’s embrace of atheism to his discovery of a higher power...In McLean’s brilliant portrayal, Lewis’s wry sense of humor is front and center. Lewis is articulate, erudite, insightful, and above all funny." Full Review

Newcity Stage

for a previous production "Stoppard-esque, the literary and philosophical clues to Lewis’ journey come so fast and furiously that only a university don might easily follow them. Starring in his own adaptation, McLean is a competent performer, although his lengthy monologue stalled for variance of passions. This performance will be enjoyed by the very-well-read individual who has crept through the door of their spirit-wardrobe to resolve a crisis of faith." Full Review

Chicago Reader

for a previous production "There's little drama in this drama. McLean underplays the major crises in Lewis’s life...while repeating Wikipedia style the key facts of the writer's biography. Even Lewis’s conversion from atheism to Christianity lacks fire. True, this choice to some extent reflects Lewis’s own wry, understated account of his religious beliefs. Still, passion smolders behind Lewis's diffidence—a passion wholly missing here." Full Review

Great acting, Intelligent, Clever, Funny, Masterful

See it if You love CS Lewis. You love books. You love intelligent plays.

Don't see it if You hate one man shows

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Profound, Ambitious

See it if Like to be intellectually challenged and enjoy cerebral drama

Don't see it if You want to watch something mindless

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Great writing, Thought-provoking

See it if C.S. Lewis’s spiritual journey, from atheist to theist and to Christianity, with details like Tolkien's friendship

Don't see it if if you do not have the attention span for a profound and meaningful monologue

Also It is preferably to be interested in philosophy and religion, but it i... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Resonant, Thought-provoking, Heady

See it if You have any interest in CS Lewis or his thinking or his writing. We were told the show was about 80 minutes long. It felt like 20.

Don't see it if You don't like shows that come from a Christian perspective. CAUTION: This show may change your life.

Absorbing, Intelligent, Masterful, Profound, Resonant

See it if you like to see a man's struggle with how he came from Atheist to Christian

Don't see it if are offended by anything concerning Christianity and God.

Absorbing, Great acting, Clever

See it if CS Lewis - this will help in you understand his journey to his conversion, The acting was the best.

Don't see it if if you want to see a funny, musical play. You don't want to see a play that makes you thihk.

Delightful, Entertaining, Funny, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if if you like theater of a one man show in nature.secondly,something that challenges you to think about your own upbringing as well.

Don't see it if if you like a big set,big design type of theater.if you don't want to get deep as they say,this show is not for you.

Clever, Intelligent, Great writing, Thought-provoking

See it if you are a fan of CS Lewis and/or enjoy thought provoking, biographical, one man, monologued shows with deep themes of religion & philosophy.

Don't see it if you have an aversion to intelligent discussion about religion, or are expecting a feel good, lighthearted show.

Absorbing, Entertaining, Great acting, Intelligent, Profound

See it if The journey from atheism to Christianity fascinates you!

Don't see it if You do not like one man shows or philosophical musings!

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent

See it if you have ever loved the words and works of CS Lewis. Nice context for contemporaries

Don't see it if You are not interested in religion.

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Intelligent, Great staging

See it if fine acting, subtle humor and lovely staging appeal. Monologs from the intelligent well read uncle you never had. Stay for the talkback!

Don't see it if one man shows are not your thing. Also if you have a short attention span. There is a lot here but you will regret mental wandering.

Intelligent, Relevant

See it if Like C.S. Lewis and are interested in religion

Don't see it if na

Absorbing, Intelligent, Riveting

See it if If you like biographical one-person show dramas.

Don't see it if If you don't like stories of religeous conversion or expect anecdotes about the writing of the Narnia series.

Absorbing, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Profound

See it if You are interested in thoughtful reflections on faith and religion

Don't see it if You are not interested in thoughtful reflections on religious faith

Absorbing, Entertaining, Great staging, Great writing, Funny

See it if You enjoy literature, science and religion discussed with intelligence and irony. Humorous and well presented, good actor/playwright.

Don't see it if One man show, slow and cerebral is not your thing. This is not a variety show but rather a close look at a writers beliefs.

Absorbing, Clever, Delightful, Enchanting, Entertaining

See it if you like C.S Lewis

Don't see it if you are not a fan of C.S Lewis

Absorbing, Entertaining, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Great writing

See it if You want to see a one man show. You want to hear how one man went from atheism to being a true believer and be thoroughly entertained by it.

Don't see it if You are not interested in hearing a great story about a mans journey from one end of the religious spectrum to the other.

Absorbing, Slow, Thought-provoking, Great acting

See it if you have an interest in C.S. Lewis, philosophy, or religion, all examined in loving detail by an attentive playwright and a thoughtful actor

Don't see it if you prefer clear and dramatic narrative arcs, tight pacing, or abundant action. This is a quiet, meandering character study of a play.

Great acting, Intelligent, Resonant

See it if you are interested in C.S. Lewis. You like biographies. You care about religious awakenings. you are interested in the Christian faith

Don't see it if you need lighthearted entertainment. you are not into religious topics and biographies

Absorbing, Entertaining, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent

See it if Great acting. Totally absorbing performance .

Don't see it if Want a fluffy topic.

Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Interesting

See it if Like CS Lewis

Don't see it if Don't like one man shows

Ambitious, Absorbing, Great writing, Great acting, Riveting

See it if You would enjoy insight into the great man and his spiritual growth, Close experiences with performers please you

Don't see it if You don't enjoy narrated/one person shows about individuals, you prefer big stage experiences

Absorbing, Great acting, Relevant

See it if Was happily surprised by CS Lewis's life and how he slowly converted to the Christian faith. He didn't come willingly!

Don't see it if His life doesn't interest you.

Clever, Intelligent, Resonant

See it if you love the work/writings of Lewis, you want to know more about the author, you enjoy one-man shows.

Don't see it if watching an intelligent, thoughtful 80min one man show is not your thing.

Enchanting, Wonderful use of graphics, Curious abut c s lewis

See it if like to hear biographical information staged with good storytelling

Don't see it if you do not like a slow paced, but informative show.

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