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The Screwtape Letters

From 28 critic and 24 member reviews
Members say: Thought-provoking, Clever, Great acting, Ambitious, Intelligent

About the show

FPA Theatre presents a return engagement of this theatrical adaptation of C.S. Lewis' novel of the same name. More…

Set in an eerily stylish office in Hell, "Screwtape Letters" chronicles the scheming of one of Satan’s senior tempters, Screwtape, to capture the soul of an unsuspecting human on Earth. In this topsy-turvy, morally inverted universe, God is the "Enemy" and the Devil is "Our Father below."

New York Critic Blog

"This intellectual source material could make for a ponderous stage production, but the show is terrific–animated and engaging. In place of dramatic tension it serves up a thick irony...McLean gives a brilliant performance as 'His Abysmal Sublimity' Screwtape. In lesser hands the role would be deadly, but Mr. McLean, who also directs the show, keeps us absorbed throughout...'The Screwtape Letters' is quite an accomplishment, intellectually and emotionally absorbing." Full Review

MD Theatre Guide

for a previous production "'The Screwtape Letters' might be just what the devil ordered…Max McLean as Screwtape commands the stage with a macabre and imposing presence...His performance will have you on the edge of your seat…Physical elements enhance the performances…'The Screwtape Letters' showcases the talents of two immensely talented performers as backed by a great physical production. It also proves that C.S. Lewis is still one of our best modern writers." Full Review

DC Metro Theater Arts

for a previous production "This adaptation is witty and humorous...What makes this great fun and a success is the impeccable delivery by McLean as Screwtape, and the fascinating performance of Bakkensen as the not quite human Toadpipe. McLean’s performance is wonderful, with just the right amount of perfectly timed sarcasm, wit, and anger…If you’re ready for a night of intellectual, yet humorous and fun endeavors, then go check out 'The Screwtape Letters'." Full Review

National Review

for a previous production “McLean so dominates the stage that 'The Screwtape Letters' seems almost a one-man show. He is both charming and gruesome, which is exactly how theatergoers who are familiar with the book would want him to be…Between the letters, Toadpipe dances to music–this is a bit distracting, but at least it serves the purpose of breaking up what otherwise would be an extended monologue. All in all, 'The Screwtape Letters' is an outstanding piece of work.” Full Review


for a previous production “'The Screwtape Letters' appeals to all…Max McLean gives thunderous voice and a stylish and intellectual twist to Screwtape…Even if you have read Lewis, this tight, fast-paced, 75-minute adaptation will give you new insight into those letters thanks to McLean's exactingly pronounced and insidious reading. Letters have rarely been this scary, or entertaining, or profoundly informative.” Full Review

Desert Local News

for a previous production “’The Screwtape Letters’ conjured theatrical magic…This adaptation felt fresh, urgent and three-dimensional. Much of that momentum was attributable to Harris, whose energy level never wavered even as the emotional stability of Screwtape began to fluctuate. Creative lighting and staging helped ameliorate the fact that only two characters were on the stage throughout — and of those two, only Screwtape was capable of speaking coherent lines.” Full Review

Plays to See

for a previous production "What a challenge, to take a character dictating letters and make it a captivating theatrical spectacle. Kudos to the entire technical team...A deliciously witty, theatrical treat that still resonates and amuses the day after." Full Review

Chicago Stage Review

for a previous production "Playwright/actor Max McLean takes on this riveting excursion into the underworld with the kind of verbose charm seldom allowed in conventional theater…Director Jeffrey Fiske delivers beautifully crafted and eloquently executed theater...the heavy-handed Christian sermonizing of C. S. Lewis’ source material is overtly distasteful. It is a true testament to the success of the production that it overcomes this dogmatic propaganda to the point of delivering a delightful theatrical encounter." Full Review

Dappled Things

for a previous production "Max McLean as has brought a new dramatic energy to the devilish epistolary and holds up a mirror to our own noisy, confounded, joyless age…All of its biting wit and penetrating insight have translated remarkably well into the theatrical format…The action is relatively straightforward, but never dull…'The Screwtape Letters' is nothing if not funny. The source material is, of course, sparkling, but much of the humor is owing to the dry McLean’s impeccable timing." Full Review

Charleston City Paper

for a previous production "‘The Screwtape Letters’ in its theatrical rendition turned a philosophical novel into an entertaining and humorous stage performance…The play succeeds because of Lewis’ deep understanding of humanity. His morally inverted universe mixes humor and reflection. The character of Screwtape keeps the intrigue going with his authoritative presence, witty lines, and exploration of human vices." Full Review


for a previous production “Those who attended ‘The Screwtape Letters’ at saw the transformation of C.S. Lewis’ provocative epistolary meditation on good and evil from a witty book to an enveloping theatrical experience. With light, sound and exceptional use of electronics, bravura performances by two - only two - actors filled the Lied Center performance hall…Though the theatrics were commanding, the concepts were subtle.” Full Review


for a previous production "A devilishly funny theatrical adaptation…This production is tight and swiftly paced. The grisly rear wall of Screwtape's hellish office immediately sets a disturbing tone…Lewis wrote insightfully about how easy it was for people to be led astray by the small things in life…McLean and Wight make a diabolical duo, and Lewis' philosophical insights into human nature are cleverly conveyed in 'The Screwtape Letters'." Full Review

Dennis Sparks Reviews

for a previous production “This is a play of words and pretty high-brow words, at that. It would be best to read these intellectual thoughts and ponder them…But, that being said, this was quite an extraordinary production! The acting by Harris of Screwtape was exceptional. His use of modulating his voice, his calculated movements, his outrageous rages and effective humor were all brilliantly conceived and executed. And his build toward madness himself was like a slow boil in a pressure cooker.” Full Review

The Orange Curtain Review

for a previous production "The problems with this play ultimately stem from my own preferences...The play has moments of real comedy, while also sending out warning signals to the audience about the state of the human condition as we now have it...I recommend you get your tickets as soon as possible." Full Review

Episcopal Diocese of New York

for a previous production "A satisfying evening’s entertainment. In the early part of the performance Mr McLean’s delivery seemed to struggle to gain traction...Mr. McLean’s increasingly engaging performance, a fine set and music carry 'The Screwtape Letters' along at a healthy and accelerating pace towards its climax…The basic wisdom of Lewis’s observations about human folly and weakness remain is these observations, so delectably presented, that make this production so compelling.” Full Review

The New York Times

for a previous production "As satirical and clever as it is, 'The Screwtape Letters' is a sermon at heart, and sermons are rarely the stuff of riveting drama. The humor of this stage adaptation is mostly cerebral, and a large part of what makes it successful is an energetic performance by Mr. McLean that brings some semblance of action to the stage. Karen Eleanor Wight is aptly reptilian as Toadpipe. One doesn’t have to be a Christian to enjoy 'The Screwtape Letters.'" Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

for a previous production "Although the material verges on repetitive and pedantic at times, Brent Harris, in the role of Screwtape, keeps the energy flowing through his full-embodied performance and masterful musicality of the language. Realizing Hell has no time or space, Harris dominates and navigates quite an emotional journey…For a short evening that will engage your mind, body, and spirit, head on over to the Pearl Theatre." Full Review


for a previous production "I’ll give director Jeffrey Fiske an A+ for stagecraft alone…Very entertaining, no question, but still out-and-out God propaganda…The production could have done more to set up the play’s premise…I also think there’s a lot more broad, laugh-out-loud comedy in Lewis’s book than this production tapped…McLean’s florid interpretation gradually won me over." Full Review

Theater Jones

for a previous production "The dialogue that unfolds in the script's lines taken straight from Lewis' pages is insightful and convicting on many levels, but the show occasionally panders to an evangelical crowd adding cliché touches like fast food jokes and outdated pop songs. As a seminal work by Lewis turned into a compelling theatrical production, 'The Screwtape Letters' is not to be missed—even if you find yourself groaning among the chuckles." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

for a previous production "The ideas are supple and surprising ones…Harris makes a meal of the text, visibly savoring every juicy word and ripe irony…'The Screwtape Letters' cannot be considered a complete success…McLean, who directed, has done just about everything possible to keep things lively…However, none of these touches are sufficient against a script that begins intriguingly but cannot escape the fact that it is essentially a tract." Full Review

SW WA Stage & Theater Arts Review

for a previous production "I found the play, like the book, heavy handed and difficult. This work is certainly an eye-opener, and though many find it funny, I did not. It cuts to the marrow with its message, so be prepared to look for lessons and be challenged. You should be convicted. It is a creative and stellar work that examines human frailty and the shortcomings of the Christian church." Full Review

The Washington Post

for a previous production "McLean’s portrayal can’t help but charm an audience…Yet McLean’s acting cannot fully divert an audience from the repetitive nature of the 90-minute piece, as Screwtape dictates letter after letter. With co-director Jeffrey Fiske, McLean has invented ways to add theatricality and diversion to the evening, and they largely work — until they, too, become repetitive." Full Review

CTX Live Theatre

for a previous production "McLean creates a Screwtape who's certainly larger than life. The odd but imaginative set depicts a credibly comfortable afterlife, and McLean's gestures, blocking and vocal treatment convey his great relish for the text…There is much to contemplate here, and not very much comedy at all…Sin and shortcomings are extremely personal…the presentation was necessarily amplified far beyond such intimacy…The capering of the attendant demon was very often distracting." Full Review

Broadway Blog

for a previous production "A stylish (if conventionally “devilish”) performance by Harris..., highly expressive pantomime from Wight, imaginative staging, striking lighting..., an unusual soundscape..., and a chilling all they can to bring this talky play to life. Much of it is intriguing, provocative, and, to many (if not to me), laugh-worthy, but once its sermonizing point is made some may find that going from one letter to another, with only a single voice, tends toward dramaturgic stasis." Full Review

DC Theatre Scene

for a previous production "The show veers from being anti-theatrical at its core, which I imagine some will find boring, to wild, gaudy flourishes undermining the production’s aim to be taken seriously…When the show does try to inject comic relief the humor is cliché and flat… As dazzling and clever as Lewis’ source material is, 'The Screwtape Letters' is essentially a sermon, more intellectual exercise than theater, and I fear that only the audience already in accordance with the message will find it satisfying." Full Review

Intelligent, Masterful, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Profound

See it if You love C. S. Lewis.

Don't see it if You have a hard time following English from mid-1900's England.

Clever, Great writing, Intense, Thought-provoking, Resonant

See it if you love Lewis and his clever way of seeing the world thru the devil's eyes. The 2nd half is stronger than first.

Don't see it if you're concerned about intensity & what is primarily a solo play. The 2nd character is a mime who really lightens the storytelling.

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting

See it if Like thought provoking subject. Fine presentation

Don't see it if na

Slow, Thought-provoking, Clever, Confusing, Entertaining

See it if you are a fan of cs lewis and the book.

Don't see it if you dont like cs lewis books

Ambitious, Enchanting, Clever, Refreshing

See it if A very good story that is well acted and directed. Nice set.

Don't see it if If you do not like cs lewis or would like a bigger production.

Thought-provoking, Relevant, Intelligent, Great acting

See it if you're interested in what lies beneath the surface - motivations and the forces (overt and subtle) of good vs. evil from a dark perspective

Don't see it if you're in the mood for light, fluffy theater or a large scale production or cast

Great acting, Entertaining, Clever

See it if you like the writings of C.S. Lewis on Christianity.

Don't see it if you don't want to hear about religion.

Disappointing, Slow, Overrated, Ambitious, Insipid

See it if You read the book and really really love C.S.Lewis and enjoy one man plays

Don't see it if You're bored easily, haven't read the book hate one man plays.

Clever, Confusing, Slow, Thought-provoking

See it if you are fan of CS Lewis and the classic, or interested in religious thought

Don't see it if You can't stand being spoken at for so ling, even if there's some distractions.

Ambitious, Great writing, Epic, Enchanting

See it if You're a fan of C.S. Lewis, or simply a fan of thought-provoking theatre!

Don't see it if You're easily offended by a daring story.

For a previous production
Thought-provoking, Riveting, Masterful, Intelligent, Hilarious

See it if you want to experience a wickedly good tale that has thought provoking ramifications. It is funny and worthwhile.

Don't see it if you don't want to think about deep things and laugh at the same time.

For a previous production
Thought-provoking, Great acting

See it if you want to see a thought-provoking show that is very entertaining. You will leave thinking about life in a different way.

Don't see it if want a straight forward comedy with the lowest level of humor.

For a previous production
Ambitious, Original, Funny, Great staging, Great acting

See it if you are a fan of The Screwtape Letters (book). You want an amusing night of good theater. It's so creative how they fleshed out Toadpipe!

Don't see it if you could care less about religion and those who practice it. (I'm an atheist, but I loved this play.) You don't like one-man shows.

For a previous production
Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Entertaining, Thought-provoking

See it if you're a fan of C.S. Lewis's work, enjoy works that present the devil in satirical form (ie. Damn Yankees), are a serious Christian

Don't see it if things about hell and the devil either turn you off or scare you, you don't appreciate clever satire, C.S. Lewis bores you

For a previous production
Clever, Great staging, Thought-provoking, Devilish humor

See it if you ever thought that the devil had his work cut out with humans

Don't see it if you upset by multiple references to God and the devil

For a previous production
Great acting, Great writing, Thought-provoking, Resonant

See it if you like moral dilemas being discussed in an intelligent and sometimes funny way.

Don't see it if you want to steer away from any issues regarding religion.

For a previous production
Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Profound

See it if You enjoy intense acting by a great actor. This one has to carry the burden of playing a malicious character without boring the audience.

Don't see it if You prefer ensemble acting. Watching a lone person (with the occasional entry of mute performers) can be enervating for some audiences.

For a previous production
Enchanting, Intelligent, Quirky, Thought-provoking, Profound

See it if you enjoy C. S. Lewis's writings and appreciate pondering the moral consequences of each life choice

Don't see it if moral quandries and intellectual dialogue is not your thing

For a previous production
Entertaining, Funny, Great staging, Clever, Delightful

See it if You love Shakespeare!!!

Don't see it if You can't understand the works of Shakespeare!

For a previous production
Clever, Entertaining, Funny, Ambitious

See it if C.s. Lewis's writing

Don't see it if You want a light play

For a previous production
Clever, Great acting, Intelligent, Intense, Thought-provoking

See it if You read the play, or love great dialogue and story telling. It is a great story, and has a strong faith morale of the story

Don't see it if You want action. Manly dialogue.

For a previous production
Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if you've read C.S. Lewis' works, if you appreciate a masterful onstage interpretation of a literary classic, if you like to think.

Don't see it if you're afraid to laugh at the devil's henchmen...

For a previous production
Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Resonant, Masterful, Great writing

See it if You enjoy a show filled with true message and a thought provoking script. The show will make you think more about your own life and heart.

Don't see it if You don't enjoy religiously based shows. Shows that don't have much change in scenery and character.

For a previous production
Clever, Ambitious, Great acting, Entertaining, Intelligent

See it if You enjoy thoughtful ideology and a bravura performance by a dynamic actor.

Don't see it if You're looking for easy escapism.

Cast & Creatives (11)