Why would anyone dare to adapt The Screwtape Letters into a radio drama? Writing 'Screwtape' as a series of letters was a diabolically clever device. C. S. Lewis created a brilliant synergy of content and form. Through the elder demon's missives, we also learn about the recipent (his hapless nephew, the rookie tempter Wormwood). And indeed Wormwood's human 'patient'. So why dramatise the letters for radio?
Well, the book is always with us, and straight readings are available on audio, both abridged and un. But for the American audience, we saw an interesting challenge to 'open up' the book in a new way.
Firstly, to develop the relationship between Screwtape and Wormwood - through dialogue as well as letters.
Secondly, to flesh out the human love-story, which is touched-in very faintly by Lewis, along with the historical context of the Second World War.
And thirdly, to bring to life Lewis's marvellous conception of hell as a gruesome bureaucracy... our sound designers have really gone to town with a 5.1 surround-sound mix!
Andy Serkis is revelatory as Screwtape. This actor continues to astound me with his versatility, giving voice and movement to Gollum and King Kong (and soon, Captain Haddock in Tintin!), looking unrecognisable as the wicked Frenchman in Little Dorrit or Ian Brady or Einstein on TV drama, and now as singer/songwriter Ian Dury in the upcoming biopic.
Geoffrey Palmer is all you would expect, and more, as the voice of Lewis. And the Olivier Award-winning actress Laura Michelle Kelly not only acts in the drama, but has also written and performs a scorching song about spiritual warfare. (Bonus features in the CD pack include ten original songs inspired by The Screwtape Letters - from Laura, Joe Brooks, Jessica Oyelowo, Dave Cooke & Paul Field, and Andy Read. Plus a DVD with five documentaries, behind-the-scenes at the audio drama and background on C. S. Lewis from experts like Brian Sibley and Colin Duriez.)
The pack will be launching in Britain in November through STL and we'll update you with details as we learn them - meanwhile you can see a taster documentary on the US website, www.screwtape.com .
Philip Glassborow Associate Producer & Casting Director The Screwtape Letters