No member of the audience taking their seat in front of a rather plain set depicting a wood-panelled interior of an Oxford college with organ music playing in the background could have guessed what an absolute treat was in store for them!  Shadowlands, this true and deeply moving story of Oxford scholar C.S. Lewis’s romance with American poet Joy Gresham is not new – it has been around for more than a quarter of a century having been first performed on stage in October 1989 with several film, television and stage versions in the interim – but this well cast and brilliantly acted production excels!  Set in the 1950s, it is the story of how the reserved confirmed bachelor, Oxford Don and renowned author, Clive Staples Lewis – known to his friends and family as Jack – meets and falls in love with an outspoken and direct divorced American woman some seventeen years his junior.

Behind: Jeffrey Harmer, Richard Holliday, Alistair Higgins, Simon Shackleton, Ian Marr In front: Shannon Rewcroft, Amanda Ryan, Stephen Boxer, Denis Lill

Behind: Jeffrey Harmer, Richard Holliday, Alistair Higgins, Simon Shackleton, Ian Marr
In front: Shannon Rewcroft, Amanda Ryan, Stephen Boxer, Denis Lill

This production, so convincingly executed, literally moved a lot of the audience to tears, so real were the emotions acted out in front of their eyes.  It was therefore with some concern and that the Friends gathered in the bar to welcome this ten-strong, predominantly male, cast to the Bar Reception following their opening night in Eastbourne!  For several, it was a first time on stage in here but other cast members were very familiar with the Devonshire Park Theatre and it was a delight to welcome them back.

It was also wonderful to see so many new faces amongst the Friends and a pleasure  to see Christine – the wife of our resident theatre critic Kevin Anderson – there to meet up with a former drama student of hers,  cast member Jeffrey Harmer – although Kevin was at pains to point out that Christine herself was still a student when she taught him! Despite not having been on stage in Eastbourne before, Stephen Boxer admitted to having spent a night here – during his ‘stag’ walk across the South Downs Way en route to Canterbury twenty-plus years ago!

Such a friendly and forthcoming cast who gave so freely of their time – we wish them every success with the tour of this outstanding play.