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Lewis-inspired play explores Christianity

BY LAUREL BLACK lblack@paducahsun.com

No matter how many insights it offers into human nature, a play falls flat if it can't keep an audience entertained.

Max McLean said he kept this lesson in mind when he helped create a stage version of C.S. Lewis' novel "The Screwtape Letters," which uses satire to provide lessons on living out the Christian faith.

"It was surprisingly not as hard as you would think (to adapt)," said McLean, director and producer for the show.

The two-demon play is set in a stylish corner office in hell, where Satan's chief psychiatrist, Screwtape, works alongside assistant Toadpipe to entice a human "patient" away from God - known to Screwtape as the "Enemy." While the story does delve deep into human nature, it's also funnier than one would think, McLean said, and translates well into a 90-minute show.

"Lewis wrote perhaps one of the best examples of reverse psychology, an inverted universe where up is down, good is bad. ... And in the character (of Screwtape), he created one of the great literary characters. He's pure pride, and that just makes for really interesting theater," he said.

The show, which first opened on off-off-Broadway in 2007, has played to more than 400,000 people. McLean cited Lewis' imagination, use of language and personal spiritual journey from atheism to Christianity as the reasons behind its lasting appeal.

"It's very provocative. It makes you think. People come away with a lot of entertainment value on a high end," McLean said. "For some people, it's an uplifting experience, and for others, it's life changing."

The show is presented by the Fellowship for the Performing Arts, which produces theater from a Christian worldview meant to engage a diverse audience, McLean said.

"The Screwtape Letters" will take the stage of the Luther F. Carson Four Rivers Center at 7:15 p.m. Saturday. The play is appropriate for audiences 13 and older. Tickets may be purchased by visiting thecarsoncenter.org or by calling the box office at 270-450-4444 by 5 p.m. today. The box office, located at 100 Kentucky Ave., will also be open two hours prior to the show.

For more information about the theatrical adaptation of "The Screwtape Letters," visit screwtapeonstage.com.

Contact Laurel Black, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8641, or follow @LaurelFBlack on Twitter.

Want to go?

n What: "The Screwtape Letters"

n When: 7:15 p.m. Saturday.

n Where: The Carson Center, 100 Kentucky Ave.

n Ticket prices range from $29 to $49. They may be purchased at thecarsoncenter.org or by calling the box office at 270-450-4444.

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