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  The Screwtape Letters at Mercury Theater

The Screwtape Letters

Mercury Theater
3745 N. Southport Ave Chicago

Set in a strikingly eerie, elegant and austere office in Hell, the play follows an urbane senior devil, Screwtape, who confidently dictates crackling good prose to his secretary, Toadpipe. The mission: To instruct a novice demon, Wormwood, on the fine art of tempting a young Christian away from "the Enemy" (Screwtape's name for God) and bring him safely down to the ravenous "our father below."

Presented by FPA Theatre Company

Thru - Apr 12, 2009

Price: $29 - $48.50

Show Type: Comedy/Drama

Running Time: 1hr 30mins; no intermission

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  The Screwtape Letters Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Recommended

"...Jeffrey Fiske and Max McLean, who adapted the show, don’t traffic in minimalist symbolism or arty deconstruction. The show is set in hell, and hell—or, at least, a corner thereof—is what they stick up on the stage, white smoke, blood-red lights and all. And McLean, who stars in the piece as the demon Screwtape, also doesn’t traffic in understated subtlety. He is a plumy, over-articulate actor, playing an employee of the devil’s. He lets it rip."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Highly Recommended

"...But be forewarned: This is one of those prose texts that demands absolute attention. Happily, its adapters and performers have deployed a slew of theatrical tricks to enhance the work's brainy delights, and the whole thing grows more lucid and perversely delicious as it unfolds."
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Hedy Weiss

Chicago Reader - Somewhat Recommended

"...If the text sometimes transcends dogma it's because Lewis was a supremely urbane and witty believer. But his absolute commitment to harsh pre-Vatican II tenets peeks out all over this 90-minute monologue, directed by Fiske and delivered by McLean, creating distasteful passages for the unconvinced."
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Tony Adler

EpochTimes - Highly Recommended

"...This is a dark comedy, and for the most part it doesn't matter what your religious beliefs are. Look at the total production as a theatrical entertainment and you cannot help but have a good time. The set by Cameron Anderson is unique and the lighting by Tyler Micoleau adds just the right touch as does Bart Fasbenders sound design. What we have are two very talented people telling a story by a witty writer whose words will make you think. I would suggest that you leave your beliefs at the doorstep and enter the Mercury with an open mind."

Al Bresloff

Centerstage - Somewhat Recommended

"...The strengths of "The Screwtape Letters" include the scenic design by Cameron Anderson, lighting by Tyler Micoleau and sound design by Bart Fisbinder. From the skull-studded wall, the stage floor lit from below and the endless rolling smoke to the endless trap doors used by Toadpipe, the audience is made to feel far below the Earth's surface."

Dennis Mahoney

Edge - Somewhat Recommended

"...And if the audience can laugh as Screwtape runs through his tactics for gaining mind control over the humans, then they should be able to laugh at the words of Jim Jones and Charles Manson since it all runs in the same vein. McClean does not help matters by delivering most of his lines with a smile. If the lines were consistently delivered in a manner that emphasized the underlying cruelty, the play could have been a much bigger success."
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Steven Hammond

Chicago Stage Review - Highly Recommended

"...Fellowship for the Performing Arts brings its successful adaptation of C. S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters to the Mercury Theater for its Chicago premiere. This is one of those rare and wonderful productions where a larger than life, bombastic and affected performance is just what the script requires to carry us through the extensive and intricate monologues."
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Venus Zarris

Time Out Chicago - Somewhat Recommended

"...Fiske and McLean’s adaptation suffers in turn from the page-bound character of the source. Screwtape has a sort of gargoyle secretary who cavorts around the stage, ineffectively punctuating his dictated ravings; otherwise, this is a classic case of serial-monologue disorder, which gets real dry real fast. But the Mephistophelian McLean nearly defeats the text, savoring every syllable in a truly commanding lead performance."
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Brian Nemtusak

ChicagoCritic - Somewhat Recommended

"...This witty, sardonic and jaded theatrical work is long on wordy, dense and complex monologues and short on dramatic tension. We have to listen to so many chatty dissertations filled with long-winded very British imagery that we simply get worn out from the density of Screwtape’s diatribes."
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Tom Williams

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   This show has been Jeff Recommended*

*The designation of "Jeff Recommended" is given to a production when at least ONE ELEMENT of the show was deemed outstanding by the Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee.

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