PHILADELPHIA – Lantern Theater Company closes their 20th anniversary season with a limited return engagement of Philadelphia actor/playwright Anthony Lawton’s multimedia adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ classic novella The Screwtape Letters. Featuring Lawton as demon Screwtape and Sarah Gliko as his sinuous secretary Toadpipe, The Screwtape Letters runs May 27 – June 15, 2014. [Full schedule including special events is below.]
In a dark corner of Hell’s bureaucracy sits mid-level demon Screwtape, scratching out letters to his nephew, Wormwood, filled with advice on how to corrupt a human soul. Gleefully, Screwtape catalogs the list of human frailties upon which Wormwood is to prey – war, lust, debauchery, decadence, and all sorts of wickedness. Anthony Lawton’s rollicking adaptation turns C.S. Lewis’ revered classic into a sumptuous multimedia event with music, dance, and infernal unpredictability.
Persuaded by several friends, including J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) converted from staunch atheist to Christian in his mid-twenties. Following his conversion, he wrote several books which still sell millions of copies all over the world today. Most of these works were colored by his experience as a Christian, including works of Christian apologetics (Mere Christianity), satire and fiction (The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, The Space Trilogy, Till We Have Faces), and children’s fantasy (The Chronicles of Narnia).
Anthony Lawton’s adaptation uses Lewis’ words as a springboard to explore the philosophical and visceral landscape of Hell, incorporating tap dancing, fire-eating and whip-work amidst Screwtape’s poetic letters. Lawton, who also stars as Screwtape, has cultivated a long-term artistic partnership with the Lantern that has included recent productions of his C.S. Lewis adaptations The Screwtape Letters and The Great Divorce, his adaption of Shel Silverstein’s The Devil and Billy Markham, his autobiographical play Heresy, and the world premiere of his original play The Foocy, which received five 2005 Barrymore Award nominations, including Best New Play.
Screwtape’s dutiful secretary Toadpipe will be played by Philadelphia actress Sarah Gliko, last seen at the Lantern as Clarice in David Ives’ The Liar. She recently joined Lawton for a presentation of The Screwtape Letters at Passage Theatre in Trenton, NJ. Other local stage appearances include The Wilma Theater (Don Juan Comes Home From Iraq), Arden Theatre Company (Parade, Charlotte’s Web), The Bearded Ladies Cabaret (My Dinner With Dito), Walnut Street Theatre (Around the World in 80 Days, Love Story, The Ugly One), Inis Nua Theatre Company (Pumpgirl), and Act II Playhouse (John & Jen).
The creative team includes scenic designer Lance Kniskern, costume designer Jillian Keys, and lighting designer Amanda Jensen, with projections by James Doolittle.
The Screwtape Letters runs May 27 – June 15, 2014 (press opening: Wednesday, May 28, 7 p.m.). Tickets are $20 – $38 and are available online at lanterntheater.org or by calling the Lantern Box Office at (215) 829-0395. $10 student rush tickets are available 10 minutes before curtain with valid ID; cash only. Additional discounts are available for seniors, groups of 10 or more and U.S. military personnel. Lantern Theater Company is located at St. Stephen’s Theater, 10th & Ludlow Streets in Center City Philadelphia.
Lantern Theater Company will open its 2014/15 season with Arcadia by Tom Stoppard, directed by Kathryn MacMillan (September 25 – November 2, 2014); followed by QED by Peter Parnell, directed by M. Craig Getting (November 20 – December 14, 2014); Doubt: A Parable by John Patrick Shanley, directed by Kathryn MacMillan and starring Mary Martello and Ben Dibble (January 15 – February 15, 2015); William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, directed by Charles McMahon (March 19 – April 26, 2015); and closing with Steven Canny and John Nicholson’s adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles, directed by Matt Pfeiffer (May 28 – June 28, 2015).