Arbon outstanding in Shadowlands

Shadowlands ANL-161102-140605001
Shadowlands ANL-161102-140605001

Maybe you or your children grew up with the magical fantasies of “ The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe” without giving much thought to the author C.S.Lewis and what sort of man could fashion such enduring classics.

If you go to the Sudbury Dramatic performance of Shadowlands this week you will discover a warm and lovely man who was in danger of living his life only through his work as an Oxford lecturer and his theological studies, expressing his emotions only through his tales for children.

Life was ruled by the routine and familiar, living in the same house with his older brother until this formidable, intelligent American woman burst into his life.

Alienating his colleagues, and shattering the protective shell formed after the death of his mother when he was a little child, Joy Davidman changed his life forever.

She brought him late in life great happiness, only to have his great Christian faith tested when she contracted cancer.

This is a beautifully written play, gently witty, and moving.

At the end of the performance there was a deep silence from the audience before the applause, which this superlative cast truly deserved.

Neil Arbon was outstanding in his portrayal of Jack, the warmth and wit of the man who was compassionate and loving, while Heidi Bernhard-Bubb as Joy, the rapier sharp tour de force, brought sincerity to every line she uttered.

You could have heard a pin drop, such was the concentration between the audience and this pair of lovers facing the pain of parting for ever.

Denis Brogan as Warnie the loyal brother gave a splendid performance, never once losing the humour while showing unstated love for his sibling.

Crying on stage and keeping up an American accent was no problem for Alex Ray as the young son. Nicely judged.

Lewis’ Oxford colleagues and the supporting cast were a professionally tight team, no small parts or players here.

Costumes and props were carefully researched for the fifties, even down to the seamed stockings Joy wore.

One minor grumble, with the restrictions of space on stage, desk, table, chairs, and cast were often placed in straight lines, forcing actors to play either upstage or out to the auditorium, restricting their natural movement.

Nevertheless the director and his backstage staff maintained high production values and produced a show to be very proud of, involving, moving and not at all depressing.