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

Members say: Intelligent, Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Slow
17 reviews
83 reviews

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

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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.


Cast & Creatives (10)

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Reviews (100)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
Avg Score


"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

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

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

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


"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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
Avg Score

Absorbing, Ambitious, Enchanting, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if you like c s Lewis. Good biography.

Don't see it if you don't like biographies or c s Lewis.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent

See it if You are interested in CS Lewis and his life.

Don't see it if You have no idea who CS Lewis is or hate religion

Clever, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Resonant, Entertaining

See it if you like subtle acting, clever use of digital back screen, and are a Lewis fan.

Don't see it if you don;t like one-man shows. Don't go if you are tired. It's a bit slow.

Excruciating, Cliched, Overrated, Slow, Dated

See it if You enjoy plays that talk at you.

Don't see it if You enjoy a show that asks you to take a journey and entertains you

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

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.

Dizzying, Indulgent, Banal, Confusing, Disappointing

See it if you know more about CSLewis than the average guy. That conversion was too quick, too confusing & completely unbelievable in less than 80min.

Don't see it if one-man shows & NO INTERMISSIONS bug you. The in-&-out-&-in again of the British accent was dizzying for 80min. Much potential, unfulfilled.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if You are on the fence about the existence of God and can appreciate a highly intelligent academic argument in favor of the Creator.

Don't see it if The idea of following an intellectual professor's journey from atheist to believer is a trip you don't want to take.

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.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Intelligent, Great writing

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.

Great acting, Indulgent, Great writing, Excruciating, Slow

See it if You want a lecture on one mans conversion to Christianity. Actor does a great job delivering material.

Don't see it if You want a show with a plot and action. Don't like being talked at. At least 3 people fell asleep around us.

Dry, Absorbing, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Slow

See it if you want to explore CS Lewis' "conversion" from Atheist to Christian w/a Lewis scholar who, it turns out, is also a pretty compelling actor.

Don't see it if you aren't prepared for a cursory, heavily edited retelling of Lewis' "conversion" from a biased, faith-based perspective.

Boring, Clever, One man show, One act

See it if you are a fan of CS Lewis or one man shows

Don't see it if you need a complex plot (or a plot at all)

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Riveting, Great writing

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

Intelligent, Resonant, Thoughtful, Wry, Muted

See it if circular voyage of a man who found his way back to God

Don't see it if you like liveliness; it's subtle

Funny, Clever, Entertaining

See it if Very interesting,funny,show.MR Lewis tells his story

Don't see it if n/a

Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Confusing

See it if One man portrayal of C S Lewis arguing with himself whether to be a Christian or not. PS He won.

Don't see it if You don't enjoy theological discussions.

Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Disappointing, Slow

See it if you like 1 man shows & conversion stories, are interested in Lewis's early life, want to support theatre from a Christian perspective.

Don't see it if you dislike 1 man shows, prefer shows with more interaction and conflict, dislike lengthy monologues,prefer acting to impersonation.

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, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Slow

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.

Absorbing, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if You are interested in CS Lewis, his philosophy and his religious experiences. An interesting and thoughtful evening.

Don't see it if Do you not see this if you prefer musicals or light dramas .

Absorbing, Great acting, Relevant, Great writing, Slow

See it if You like or have read C.S. Lewis' books. You want to see a show about a person seeking his faith.

Don't see it if You don't like one-man shows. Or religious matters don't interest you.

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

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, Ambitious, Intelligent, Slow

See it if you enjoy one-man shows that are a deep, intellectual argument about faith, religion, personal development. Interesting from any perspective

Don't see it if you can't stand slow starts of one man shows that feel more lecture than play. Aren't open to religious discussion.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if You're interested in ideas about Christianity or the existence of Jesus Christ or the history of C. S. Lewis. Some interesting insight here.

Don't see it if You're hoping for a conversion. I don't think there's enough information here to change anyone's mind about anything.

Flat, Well acted, Uninvolving, Well written

See it if You're a Lewis fan, or are up for a good looking, well written & acted if ultimately uninspiring evening of religious inquiry & philosophy.

Don't see it if You'd rather experience an actual play or drama rather than a lecture, however intelligent, well-reasoned and smoothly performed.

Also Max McLean clearly knows his CS Lewis, and delivers a solid and convin... Read more Read less