Theater archives

The Screwtape Letters Is Packing Them In Off-Broadway


The Broadway season is as over as the chance that there’ll be a Goldman Sachs musical, so I went way “off” to see The Screwtape Letters, based on the 1942 C.S. Lewis novel, at the Westside Theatre (407 W. 43rd St).

Said the release:

“The play follows the clever scheming a high level demon employs to entice a human toward damnation.

“As His Abysmal Sublimity Screwtape, Max McLean creates a ‘master of the universe’ character, all too familiar to New Yorkers, whose rhetorical flourishes mesmerize while he allures.

“At his feet is the creature-demon, Toadpipe, played by Karen Eleanor Wight.

“Toadpipe transforms into the paragons of vice Screwtape conjures with a flick of Screwtape’s fingers. “

The result, while agreeably demonic, is not exactly my usual cup of poison. Firstly, it’s basically a monologue, with some occasional yelps from Toadpipe thrown in.

Secondly, all the inverted morality designed to point up God’s greatness and the devil’s darkness made me a tad uncomfortable, for obvious reasons.

But the set (a backdrop of skulls and bones), lighting, and sound effects are top notch, and the actors are zesty, if the result sometimes comes off a little canned.

Wouldn’t a high level demon be a little more spontaneous?

Whatever the case, give me some credit for going to see something that’s not a jukebox musical.