JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis – arguably the inventors of the fantasy genre as we know it today, or at least the branch of it set in worlds other than our own – were contemporaries at Oxford, co-founding a literary group known as the Inklings and generally spurring each other on to write.
Their eventual estrangement – over, among other things, Tolkien’s dislike of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and schisms in their respective subscriptions to Catholicism and Protestantism – is well-documented. This play from Rising Image Productions imagines their reconciliation, as the two men meet in Oxford’s Eagle and Child pub in 1963.
It’s a gentle and informative production, covering each man’s attitude to literature, religion and each other. None of it is especially exciting – it’s just two older gents chatting in a pub, after all – but it’s a pleasant enough way to spend an hour, especially if you’re a fan of either author’s work. Of the pair, David Robinson’s Tolkien is slightly more solid – David Payne fumbles the odd line as Lewis, though this can charitably be attributed to Lewis’s rather more infirm state at this time in his life.
Until 20 August. Today 6:30pm.