The Screwtape Letters

The Screwtape Letters Yannick LawryProviding a humorously accurate insight into the frailties of human nature, Clock & Spiel Productions presents, in a special new adaptation for the stage, CS Lewis’ brilliantly funny literary masterpiece, The Screwtape Letters at the Seymour Centre from 22 November, before playing at Chapel Off Chapel and the Canberra Theatre Centre in December 2016.

The Screwtape Letters follows the correspondence between a senior demon, Screwtape, and his nephew, a junior tempter named Wormwood – whose task it is to secure the damnation of a young man known as ‘The Patient’.

Screwtape likes philosophy, admires history, and disdains science; he is so cultured that in one letter he talks about reading in the British Museum, so hip that in another he says how helpful it will be to make use of “the ‘Life Force’, the worship of sex, and some aspects of Psychoanalysis.”

CS Lewis was a friend and colleague of JRR Tolkien, both taught in the English Department of Oxford University, and he was, like the author of Lord of the Rings, deeply immersed in his Christian faith. The Screwtape Letters has universal contemporary appeal as a satirical exploration of evil and temptation.

Five years after publishing The Screwtape Letters, Lewis appeared on the cover of Time with a devil on his shoulder. The novel was already one of his most popular works. Despite decades of expounding the same themes in lectures, radio addresses, sermons, and theological treatises, Lewis was never livelier than when he wrote of demons. No matter how many other ways he tried to write of faith, we still like hearing from the Devil best.

Directed and adapted by Hailey McQueen, The Screwtape Letters is masterfully performed by Yannick Lawry (Australia: The Story of Us) as Screwtape, while George Zhao (The Family Law) injects a physical comedy element like no other, in his portrayal of Screwtape’s assistant, Toadpipe.

Yannick Lawry trained at ArtsEd, London and is a Sydney-based actor and voiceover. TV credits include Australia: The Story Of Us, Deadly Women and Evie (Has a Spare Room). Theatre credits include Trotter in Journey’s End (Reginald Theatre), Alan in God of Carnage (The Tap Downstairs) and Brad in Brad Checked In (Old Fitz). He’s also been heard across Sydney as an announcer on smoothfm and 2GB. Aside from acting, voiceover and radio, Yannick is currently studying towards a Certificate in Theology.

George Zhao has trained in physical theatre, the theatre of imagery and puppetry skills. Having recently completed a Bachelor of Dramatic Art (Excelsia College), majoring in performance, he has secured many impressive roles since graduating. His credits include a lead role in the recently shot SBS television series The Family Law, and a role with Opera Australia in Aida.

Having completed a degree in Theatre Performance, and over 12 years of professional acting and theatre making experience, Hailey McQueen has enjoyed many roles across stage and screen including: When the Rain Stops Falling, King Lear, Measure For Measure, The Way of All Fish, The God of Carnage, Entertaining Angels, The Importance of Being Earnest, Hamlet and Picnic on the Battlefield, just to name a few.

Hailey appeared as Sonia McMahon on Channel 9’s Power Games, and as Carly in the new Aussie web series, Town Centre. When not performing, Hailey is an active advocate of emerging talent and has lectured in Theatre History and Drama Pedagogy at Sydney’s Excelsia College for over 8 years.

Clive Staples Lewis (1898–1963) was one of the intellectual giants of the twentieth century and arguably one of the most influential writers of his day. He was a Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Oxford University until 1954, when he was unanimously elected to the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge University, a position he held until his retirement.

Lewis wrote more than thirty books, allowing him to reach a vast audience, and his works continue to attract thousands of new readers every year. C. S. Lewis’s most distinguished and popular accomplishments include Mere Christianity, Out of the Silent Planet, The Great Divorce, The Screwtape Letters, and the universally acknowledged classics in The Chronicles of Narnia.

Director, Adaptation and Set Design: Hailey McQueen Featuring: Yannick Lawry, George Zhao Assistant Director and Stage Manager: Jessica Gray Animation and Visual Design: Chris Bailey

The Screwtape Letters
Reginald Theatre – Seymour Centre, City Road, Chippendale
Season: 22 November – 10 December 2016

The Loft – Chapel Off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel Street, Prahran
Season: 13 – 17 December 2016

Courtyard Studio – Canberra Theatre Centre, London Circuit, Canberra
Season: 19 – 23 December 2016

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Image: Yannick Lawry stars in The Screwtape Letters (supplied)