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Edinburgh: classic authors set to spar again on the Fringe

More than 50 years after his death, CS Lewis is set to battle it out once again with friend and intellectual sparring partner JRR Tolkien ...

More than 50 years after his death, CS Lewis is set to battle it out once again with friend and intellectual sparring partner JRR Tolkien.

The two authors and professors, in the shape of David Payne (Lewis), David Robinson (Tolkien) will take to the Fringe at Edinburgh for the first UK performance of Of Wardrobes and Rings (16-20 August).

A re-creation of their last meeting, Lewis and Tolkien will argue over literature, fantasy, religion, divorce and much more. Set in their favourite Oxford pub they are kept lubricated by Hattie (Meg Ellisor) the dizzy American barmaid.

"They were foils for one another," said Payne, who also wrote the play. "Without Lewis, Tolkien may not have published Lord of the Rings. Tolkien, on the other hand, didn't like Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia. The play covers their discussion over fantasy novels and the difficulties, to Tolkien's mind, of Lewis marrying a divorced woman, Joy Gresham. Tolkien, a Roman Catholic, was against it. One of the key themes of the play, however, is reconciliation."

Payne has won impressive reviews for An Evening with CS Lewis, also being performed in Edinburgh (5-13 August and 22-27 August), a one-man show in which Lewis gives an informal talk to a group of American writers visiting England.   

Born in London, Payne, formerly a structural engineer, moved to Nashville, Tennessee with his wife in 1992. It was in Nashville that Payne came across an audition notice for a production of Shadowlands. His curiosity was aroused when it stated 'British accents a help!' He landed the lead role and the reviews were so positive he turned his attention to developing An Evening with CS Lewis.

'I hope that our audiences will feel they have found the "real" Lewis and Tolkien as they enjoy the humour, chat and, at times, pathos in both productions,’ said Payne.

Dates, times and venue
An Evening with C S Lewis (5-13, 15 and 22-27 Aug 6.30pm)
Of Wardrobes and Rings (16-20 Aug 6.30pm)
All performances at Greenside @ Nicolson Square, Venue 209, 25 Nicolson Square, EH8 9BX

Full: £11. Concessions: £8.50. Family: £6.
Box office: 0131 618 6967

PICTURED: David Payne as CS Lewis

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