With its thematic inspiration steeped in Christian orthodoxy, a staged adaption of The Screwtape Letters might be greeted with understandable skepticism by anyone holding contrasting—or simply nonexistent—theological views. Such religious wariness certainly isn't relieved by the knowledge that the source novel by C.S. Lewis was written as a celebration of piousness, or that this touring adaptation is being produced by the Fellowship of the Performing Arts, an organization founded under the mission "to produce theatre from a Christian worldview that engages a diverse audience." Thankfully the emphasis on engaging a diverse audience isn't mere lip service; for rather than preaching to the converted or lobbying for new believers, The Screwtape Letters entertains with the universally experienced (and generally nondenominational) sensations of lust and temptation. Set in the bureaucratic offices of hell, the satire recounts the practical advice of a demon named Screwtape for promoting sin and ensuring damnation. As portrayed by Max McLean, Screwtape is a kind of philosophically pandering Mephistopheles, charismatically ensnaring hapless souls by offering to fulfill every craving imaginable, no matter how sordid. Whatever one's religious doctrine (or lack thereof), there's something undeniably appealing about moral turf wars pitting virtue against vice, especially when the nefarious side is argued with so much guile and wit.
Sat., May 14, 4 & 8 p.m.; Sun., May 15, 3 p.m., 2011