Theatre Review - The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

MICHAEL Fentiman’s stunning production of CS Lewis’s classic (based on Sally Cookson’s original stage version) draws out its darker aspects and captivates from the very first moment.

During the Second World War, four siblings are evacuated to the country. They end up living with an eccentric professor (Johnson Willis). Lucy (Delainey Hayles), the youngest, disappears though the wardrobe to another world where she meets kindly faun Mr Tumnus (Jez Unwin).

Her brother Edmund (Shaka Kalokoh) follows but pretends that the ice-clad Narnia does not exist. Finally, the two eldest siblings Peter and Susan (Ammar Duffus and Robyn Sinclair) make it through the wardrobe.

They must save Edmund from the evil clutches of The White Witch (a brilliant performance by understudy Rachel Dawson on the night I went) and save Narnia from eternal winter. They are helped by the majestic lion, Aslan; a giant puppet (operated by Oliver Grant, Sean Lopeman and Shaun McCourt) and played by Chris Jared with resplendent long hair and shaggy furs.

This thrilling musical version allows you to tap into your own imaginations and will appeal to adults as much as it delights children. Max Humphries and Toby Olie’s wonderful puppetry, for example, includes a cat called Schrödinger.

Tom Paris’s set and costumes are ingenious – white parachute silk allows important scene changes and magical transformations. Benji Bower and Barnaby Race’s stirring musical numbers help move the action along. The impressive musicians double up as characters.

The production is faithful to the wartime setting but there is plenty that will resonate with a modern audience – the fact that Narnia is locked in an ice age, the wilful destruction of trees and the rare appearance of a red squirrel.

Throughout, we celebrate difference and are reminded of the importance of compassion.


Until January 8 

Originally published by Camden New Journal