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Published On: Tue, Oct 30th, 2012

‘Screwtape Letters’ continues to be chilling and challenging candor for Christians and non-Christians

The Seven Deadly Sins needed to make room for Christian hypocrisy, righteous indignation and intellectual arrogance as Max McLean’s Screwtape overlooked few sins in the stage adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ famed opus.

“The Screwtape Letters” follows the interactions of a demonic counselor mentoring his nephew Wormword through a series of exchanges designed to mentor the novice demon in the art of corruption and to deliver his Patient, as Screwtape describes, down “the slow, gentle slope to hell.”

Max McLean and demon in “The Screwtape Letters” photo Gerry Goodstein

McLean’s brilliance as Screwtape (which he pronounces with a popping letter “P”) is his presentation of an onslaught of emotions and behaviors which may seem benign on the surface, but lead to devastating consequences.

“Make him do nothing: stay up late, stare at a fire,” the Demon advises Wormword, as the clock of the “Patient” continues to tick with his soul in the balance.

The audience is presented with a cold and calculating supernatural force that is content to silently wait rather than push the victim toward “the light” or pull back the veil which masks the spirit war.

Screwtape’s assistant Toadpipe scribbles and scratches the dictation as Christianity is described as a brief sojourn, full of the neighbors who annoy, scripture in small print and a mutual annoyance with one’s parents.

McLean bashes “Holier than Thou” Christians upside the head with a metaphoric analysis comparing tedious expectations to gluttony, then reminds that a “modulated religion is as good as no religion at all” adding however, “it’s more amusing.”

Intellectualism, atheism and a healthy dose of other secular conditions ensure the most profound questions of existence are raised and degrees of wrongdoing are quickly equalized: “murder is no better than cards.”

Max McLean in “The Screwtape Letters” at Tampa’s Straz Center

Sin is sin and Screwtape is masterful advisor birthed out of C.S. Lewis’ imagination.

McLean appears to have honed his portrayal to perfection. 90 minutes of soliloquies are strung together seamlessly to create an eerie reality check for every audience member.

Toadpipe, played by Tamala Bakkensen, is a delightful co-star, easing the tension at times while conveying the pure disgust Satan has for God.

“Prayer” is more than a four-letter word in hell – consider yourself warned.

“The Screwtape Letters” is a strong 4 stars out of 5 stars.

“Love is not propaganda, but truth as the enemy is bent on creating little replicas of himself…we want servants.” – Screwtape brilliantly examining free will.

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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  1. Max McLean interview: C.S. Lewis, ‘The Great Divorce’ and bringing spiritual warfare to the stage - The Global Dispatch says:

    […] McLean starred in the stage adaptation of The Screwtape Letters and now returns with another C.S. Lewis classic – The Great Divorce. Max took out time to preview […]

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