C. S. Lewis impersonators had a banner year in 1998 during the author's numerous 100th birthday celebrations. Those who knew Lewis consider Anthony Hopkins's portrayal in the film Shadowlands slightly neater than was the original "Jack" Lewis, while applauding Joss Ackland's more rumpled and rumbling Lewis in the TV movie of the same name; even David Suchet, who plays Hercule Poirot on the Agatha Christie series seen on PBS and elsewhere, imbues Lewis with more gravity than the witty, wise-cracking professor-who reportedly kept his friends in stitches-probably warrants.

An American who has garnered surprising praise on both sides of the Atlantic for his Lewisian depiction is actor

Tom Key of Atlanta, Georgia.

Since 1983, Key has performed as the Oxbridge don over 200 times in his one-man drama, C.S. Lewis on Stage. According to Key, the most appropriate setting for the play (which was once performed at Washington, D.C.'s Kennedy Center), was at Oxford University's Sheldonian in 1998, a theater where Lewis attended countless graduation ceremonies during his long tenure at Oxford. Among those he considers his most appraising audience members, Key includes Douglas Gresham (Lewis's stepson), Owen Barfield, and George Sayer (Oxford "Inklings" colleagues), and Lewisian correspondent Sheldon Vanauken. His most memorable stage problem with the show occurred in Tennessee, where the farmer who was supposed to introduce him held up the opening curtain for 20 minutes because he was busy delivering a calf. Key's weirdest memory of C. S. Lewis on Stage featured a skullcap designed to hide his full, distinctly non-Lewisian head of hair. Under the hot stagelights at a San Diego performance in 1986, his headgear began popping and bubbling; ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.