That's how I spent my morning yesterday. To be a bit more precise, I, along with some other current and former BreakPoint staffers, had coffee with Max McLean, who played Screwtape in New York and will soon be playing him in D.C., when the theatrical version of The Screwtape Letters opens here next month. We had a fun chat about the play, and fortunately the faint odor of brimstone wasn't quite strong enough to alarm the other patrons of Panera. (Just kidding about Mr. McLean, who couldn't have been nicer, and in fact attends Tim Keller's church. Screwtape's Father Below would be so disappointed.)
By Mr. McLean's account, The Screwtape Letters had two phenomenally successful runs in New York, greeted with enthusiasm by such prestigious critics as Terry Teachout of the Wall Street Journal. They're considering another run in New York after this visit, and perhaps eventually a group of companies that can take the show on the road.
The actor and playwright had some great insights into the mind of his demonic character. You might say the two of them go way back, all the way to when The Screwtape Letters was one of the first books Mr. McLean's wife made him read after his conversion. Reading C. S. Lewis's Surprised by Joy, he says, had only confused him, but when it came to Screwtape, he realized, "I know this guy. He and I've been buddies for years." Screwtape, he explains, has "an understanding of the natural world being an evil place," where "survival of the fittest" is the law. "That's Screwtape's world and he wants humanity to fall in line." The major lesson of Screwtape, as he puts it, is "Know your enemy, know your Redeemer, know yourself."
If you're in the D.C. area, you won't want to miss this interpretation of one of Lewis's most memorable characters. To buy tickets, you can visit the website of the Fellowship for the Performing Arts, of which Mr. McLean is founder and president.
(From left: Mariam Bell, Ellen Vaughn, Max McLean, Kim Moreland, and myself)