The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe

CS Lewis’ magical novel “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” is perhaps the greatest ever written for children. It was therefore with a certain amount of trepidation that I walked into “C too” to watch Wendybird’s production of it. I was, however, pleasantly surprised with some of the ideas that they had come up with and whilst the execution of them was sometimes lacking, there was certainly enough to suggest that as the run goes on and the show develops, this could provide some entertaining viewing for children and parents alike.When four children are evacuated from London to escape the Blitz during the Second World War, it looks like their time in the historic country house that they are moved to will be dominated by discipline and restriction from the shrill housekeeper Mrs Macready; until, that is, Lucy (the youngest child) discovers a magical world whilst trying to hide in a wardrobe. “Narnia” is ruled by the White Witch, whose presence dictates that winter will be present for ever and that Christmas will never come. The four children subsequently join the true ruler of Narnia, Aslan, in the fight against the White Witch for Narnia’s rightful governance.Director, Alex Howarth chooses to tackle the problem of switching between Narnia and the real world by using voiceover and while it felt a bit mish-mash at times, the idea is an inventive one and one that will surely become more effective as cues become tighter and technical issues are ironed out. The major problem with the first half of the piece is the extent to which it is vocally underpowered. Despite sitting relatively near the front, I was constantly leaning forward to try and hear what the actors were saying and it took until Aslan’s arrival (assertively played by James Burgess) to heighten the energy and really reach out to the audience to welcome them in. Perhaps this problem was also exacerbated by the amount of physical movement and dance the production contained – in a sense, it was extremely imaginative, but by filling almost a quarter of the play with this, it meant that certain sections of the dialogue became very plot heavy and as a result left the audience with difficulty emphasising with some of the characters.The most interesting character is Edmund, who betrays his three siblings to join the White Witch’s side, before realising his wrongdoing and joining the allies for the final battle. Andrew Mackley captures this transformation with an intelligent performance and by the time the battle takes place, which features some well choreographed stage fighting and tension-filled music, both adults and children alike were pinned to the edge of their seats.Accompanied by a dreamy soundtrack and beautifully designed costumes, Wendybird’s production of “The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe” has the potential to provide some great family entertainment. Although it may stutter and choke through first gear, by the end of the play it was roaring away in fifth.

Reviews by John C Kennedy

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The Blurb

Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy do battle with the cruel White Witch. Narnia brought thrillingly to life onstage in Wendybird's spectacular and lively musical adaptation of CS Lewis's spell-binding adventure.

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