Sunday, December 8, 2013

THE DARK TOWER radio play

So, the day before yesterday I learned from a friend (thanks, Allan) about a new radio play based on C. S. Lewis's unfinished time-travel story, THE DARK TOWER. It'll be an hour-long piece consisting of two thirty-minute episodes, which ambitiously not only presents this little-known story but also provides an ending to Lewis's abandoned tale. There are six parts, three female (teenager Juniper, forty-something Eleanor, and Camilla Benbridge, presumably the female lead and the only one of these three to come from Lewis's original) and three male (Dr. Orfieu the mad scientist, Michael Scudamor  the male lead, and C. S. Lewis himself), these latter being three of the four main characters in CSL's original (they've cut the fourth, my personal favorite, the Scotch skeptic McPhee). While there are only six performers, there are more than six characters, since several of them have Othertime alter egos -- e.g., Othertime Scudamour (the Stingerman), described as "arrogant", which comes from Lewis's story, while Othertime Lewis ("a sinister figure") is their own creation.

Those interested can find under the following link not just a brief synoposis (which reveals the full name of this adaptation to be THE STING OF THE DARK TOWER) and listing of personae (see above) but also an eleven-page excerpt from the script, including bits of the Eleanor-and-Juniper frame story and two Orfieu/Lewis/Scudamour scenes plus another with O/L/othertimeS and Camilla. The most memorable detail is Othertime Scudamour (the former Stingerman)'s enthusiasm for English fish and chips (OT Scudamour to OT Camilla: "They're delicious. You'll never want to go back"*).

So, looks like an interesting, quirky project. Hope it makes it to fruition; I'd like to hear how it comes out.

Here's the link.

For those interested in THE DARK TOWER itself, I wrote at length about Lewis's unfinished story in my essay in TOLKIEN'S LEGENDARIUM, where I place it in the context of Tolkien and Lewis's time-travel/space travel bargain. While we don't have enough of the story to be able to tell how it would have ended (our fragment is the equivalent of the first eight or nine chapters of OUT OF THE SILENT PLANET, about to the point at which Ransom meets up with the first hrossi), I laid out a few elements I thought the ending would include, based on the strictures of the Tolkien/Lewis bargain and a passing comment Tolkien makes about the work in a letter. Since then there have been two more attempts to projected a conclusion, one by Jared Lobdell, the other by Jonathan Hime. None of these three shares any element in common, which makes me all the more curious to see what the radio-playwright will come up with.


*this little bit reminds me of a famous Ray Bradbury story about some time travelers back from a not quite dystopian future who give themselves away by their not being able to stop themselves from overindulgence in luxuries like readily available alcohol and tobacco.

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