YOU’RE just getting into the zone of William Nicholson’s beautifully crafted and at times agonisingly poignant play about doomed love and it happens yet again… the Malvern audience’s incomparable genius for emitting gusts of totally inappropriate laughter.

Here in the stalls, we should be basking in the warm rays of Narnia creator C S Lewis’ understated irony and wit. Instead, the anticipation of yet more blasts of moronic cackling unfailingly manages to ruin the moment.

This is a study of the affection between two people who have come in from an emotional wilderness, the tale of a couple that the fates have decreed will eventually be the soul mates Nature always intended.

Yet you might as well be at a Jethro show, complete with chicken in the basket, pints of black velvet all round, and maybe a bale of straw broken for those of the more farmyard persuasion.

Nevertheless, this story of Lewis and American divorcee Joy Gresham is still powerful enough to break through the sound barrier, leaving the more thoughtful observer saddened but also strangely uplifted at the same time.

Stephen Boxer brilliantly captures the essence of the entirely bookish, academic Lewis, who can seemingly intellectualise everything into infinity except the ways of the heart.

But his thoroughly English awkwardness ultimately meets its match in the form of the brash but emotionally fragile Gresham, a woman who can not only parry his verbal cleverness, but also put fleas in the ears of any of his pompous colleagues who might want to try their luck.

Amanda Ryan sparkles brighter than any moonlit frozen branch in this Narnia woodland, while the lugubrious Denis Lill as Lewis’s brother Warnie blusters and harrumphs his way through the piece to glorious effect.

Shadowlands runs until Saturday (April 16). We can only hope that the idiotic laughter has died down well before then.