Written during the second “war to end all wars, ” C.S. Lewis’ “The Screwtape Letters” is a literate look at spiritual warfare from The Devil’s point of view. Demon Screwtape (Max McLean) counsels bumbling junior demon Wormwood in his efforts to corrupt a young man who has just converted to Christianity. It’s a witty look at faith and the faithful.
The show’s production values are first rate. Cameron Anderson’s raked set recreates Hell as an overstuffed Oxford don’s office; Michael Bevins’ costumes add an otherworldly touch. The performances are crisp and clever: McLean’s satisfied, from-the-depth-of-Hades baritone fits the character perfectly. Yvonne Gougelet as Screwtape’s personal toady Toadpipe conveys an impressive array of emotions and characters without dialogue. Lewis’ dismissive jibes at the spiritually moderate and the “worldly” sting a bit, but the church and its members are also rife for satire. No one escapes Lewis’ exacting, provocative devotional views. (Lisa Buscani)
At the Mercury Theater, 3745 N. Southport, (773)325-1700. Open run.