Jack Lewis Has a Visitor

SYNOPSIS

The scene is the study of a small house a few miles outside Oxford, England. When the play begins a young American, BOB ANDERSEN, has arrived to visit his old tutor, JACK LEWIS. What Andersen doesn't know is that Lewis, the renowned author of The Chronicles of Narnia and  many writings on Christian faith, has just lost his wife to cancer. Embarrassed, Andersen  tries to take his leave, but Lewis quickly covers up his grief and insists that his ex-pupil stay, at least for a while.

Andersen agrees because, as it happens, he has an agenda.

A lawyer, successful,  married, with a young son, Andersen has nevertheless been going through a series of a inexplicable sensations and experiences that are threatening to undermine his rational belief system. One of these, involving his son, has shaken him to the core.  He has taken the opportunity of a business trip to England to visit Lewis in the hopes that he can get some understanding of what is happening to him.

Though he doesn't like to use the word or believe it's possible, is God trying to reach him?

What Andersen doesn't know, and what only emerges after he begins to question Lewis about the mysterious 'Joy' that Lewis describes in his autobiography and that led him to accept full faith in Christ, is that Lewis is going through a crisis of his own, brought on by the appalling suffering his wife went through before she died.

Lewis now sees 'Joy', and his whole religious conviction, as a 'house of cards'.

These revelations about each other - that one of them is beginning to doubt his own rationality while the other is doubting his faith - come out as Andersen doggedly tries to get Lewis to explain the meaning of 'Joy' and Lewis expertly dodges the questions and infuriates Andersen with his evasions. Just as the men reach an impasse, they are interrupted by a domestic crisis involving Lewis's two stepsons. Lewis excuses himself and leaves Andersen to be entertained by his brother WARNIE, who has been a watchful, sometimes intrusive and generally hostile presence trying to make sure Lewis isn't taken over by this unwelcome visitor from the other side of the Atlantic.

Marshaling his formidable charm and lawyerly skills, Andersen  manages to disarm Warnie. Warnie eventually reveals a startling secret about Lewis's life before his marriage - a thirty year relationship with a woman, Mrs. Moore, whom  he called his 'mother' but who was in fact nothing of the sort. The truth is she was the mother of a friend of Lewis who was killed in WWI.

Warnie calls Mrs. Moore the 'rape' of his brother's life.

Lewis returns and the two men are alone with each other again. Armed with the information he got from Warnie, Andersen pursues Lewis to find out the true source of his conversion to Christianity. Lewis is forced to admit what may be the real motive for his dramatic renunciation of atheism at the age of 29 - a motive connected to the strange story of his relationship with Mrs. Moore.

Then, turning the tables, Lewis defends himself with the rapier logic that distinguished him as a teacher. He takes Andersen through a punishing series of questions that strip away any comfortable idea Andersen may have had about God and leave him with a decision even  more disturbing than the one he thought faced him when he arrived.

And that is where we leave him.

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