Opposites attract in author’s love story

Amanda Ryan as Joy Davidson and Stephen Boxer as C S Lewis in the touring production of Shadowlands.

Amanda Ryan as Joy Davidson and Stephen Boxer as C S Lewis in the touring production of Shadowlands.

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Having played everything from soap opera to Shakespeare, as well as appearing in movies such as The Iron Lady, Stephen Boxer now plays Narnia creator C S Lewis in the touring stage production of Shadowlands.

And he believes the story’s central themes of grief, belief and love will resonate with audiences.

He said: “It’s a beautifully structured play and it’s very poignant, so we can all relate to it. But it is also very entertaining, very witty with some real belly laughs.”

The play,which comes to Aylesbury’s Waterside Theatre on Monday (July 18) for a week, charts the developing relationship between Lewis, an Oxford don and author of The Chronicles of Narnia, and feisty American poet Joy Davidman.

Finding his peaceful life with his brother Warnie disrupted by the outspoken Davidman, whose uninhibited behaviour is at complete odds with the atmosphere and rigid sensitivities of the male dominated university, Lewis and Joy show each other new ways of viewing the world. But when Joy is diagnosed with cancer Lewis’s long held Christian faith becomes perilously fragile.

But, Mr Boxer pointed out, Lewis’s struggle with his faith resulted in the beautiful book A Grief Observed, an extraordinary collection of the author’s reflections about bereavement. Mr Boxer said: “It is a kind of bible for both religious and non-religious people. It rises above religion and belief and talks about how we deal with loss and how a theory of life is tested by reality.”

As for the relationship between Lewis and Davidman, Mr Boxer said despite the obvious differences in their characters and life experiences - one a classically repressed quite conservative thinking Englishman who lived an ivory tower life,and the other an ex-communist Jewish American - there was a definite meeting of minds.

He said: “Their intellectual acuity was an absolute meeting place for them both - they could both spar in the same intellectual boxing ring and they enjoyed that; they enjoyed the cut and thrust of intellectual debate. That’s how their relationship started.”

Shadowlands is at The Waterside at 7.30pm from Monday (July 18) through to Saturday July 23, with additional 2.30pm matinees on Thursday and Saturday.Tickets cost from £15 and are available from the box office on 0844 871 7607.