The New York-based Fellowship for Performing Arts production, set to play the Alliance Theatre through Sunday, is leaving ample critical acclaim in its wake as it makes the rounds as part of a world premiere tour.
The narrative — a standard theme in the venerated Lewis canon — centers on its characters’ journey to heaven and hell. The play is billed as a provocative exploration of human nature featuring Lewis’ trademark wit.
The Neighbor Newspapers caught up with fellowship Artistic Director Max McLean, a Lewis lifer, for a candid interview on the eve of the show’s Atlanta debut.
Q: How challenging was it to produce this C.S. Lewis material?
A: We’re very experienced and skilled at adapting Lewis — from the page to the stage — and this is one of his best-known works. We had such a wonderful experience [producing] “The Screwtape Letters” … we wanted to engage in that again. With this, we stick very closely to the book.
Q: What are your expectations of the audience in regards to this particular play?
A: It’s Lewis, so it’s going to be really thought-provoking. Audiences will also be very entertained. His is a constellation of ideas you get almost nowhere else. So, audiences are really challenged. He puts up a mirror to ourselves, our psyche. For some people, it’s a convicting experience. … For others, it’s a life-changing experience.
Q: What kind of feedback have you been getting from patrons thus far?
A: Lewis challenges your worldview. People have this very imaginative experience that puts them in a different place and the audience is trying to come to terms with it. They feel they’ve had an experience with the supernatural world, which is what Lewis wants.
Q: How far back does your personal relationship with Lewis’ body of work go?
A: I’ve been reading Lewis now for 30 years. He’s in many ways my spiritual father. I look to him for encouragement, for stretching me, for challenging me. Reading Lewis makes me a better person.
If you go:
o What: “C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce”
o When: today through Sunday
o Where: The Alliance Theatre, 1280 Peachtree St., Midtown
o Tickets: $25 to $55
o Information: (404) 733-5000 or www.greatdivorceonstage.com