The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Enthused with enchantment and wonder, Theresa Heskins’ adaptation of C S Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe lovingly translates the classic book from page to stage. Original music, earnest performances and stunning sets bring the snowy land of Narnia to life, a land where it is “always winter and never Christmas, think of that!”

The four actors playing the children inhabit their roles with a commendable sincerity; their earnestness ensures the story is so engaging.

The level of creativity and care behind this production is evident in the gorgeous programmes. Designed to resemble books, they come complete with a bookmark and stickers featuring illustrations of the inhabitants Narnia. This child-friendly merchandise serve as a great introduction to the theatre, compared in the programme notes to a kind of magical wardrobe. The bookmark is also a lovely touch, encouraging the young audience to go home and read CS Lewis’ original novel if they have not already.

The production begins in a whirlwind of air raid sirens and trains, cleverly evoked via fast motion acting. The show initially whisks along, clearly keen to get Lucy to Narnia as soon as possible, although not before effectively evoking the realities of Second World War Britain.

The four actors playing the children inhabit their roles with a commendable sincerity; their earnestness ensures the story is so engaging. Claire-Marie Seddon plays Lucy – who first finds the way to Narnia through a wardrobe – with compassion and wide-eyed innocence. Charlotte Miranda Smith is every inch the reassuring and level-headed older sister and James Rottger is well-cast as the charismatic and noble eldest Peter. As middle sibling Edmund, Cristian Ortega has the most interesting role to play with: it is Edmund’s betrayal of his family that causes the story’s near-tragedy. Ortega subtly shows the motives behind this betrayal and Edmund’s growing sense of horror as he realises what he has done.

Shirley Robinson dresses the four children in appropriately realistic 1940s costumes, which cleverly evoke Pauline Bayes’ original 1950 illustrations. The leads are well supported by Ben Onwukwe, who successfully portrays Aslan’s innate courage and goodness. The only weaker link is Pauline Knowles’ White Witch, who, whilst undoubtedly frightening, does not quite portray the role’s required regal coldness.

The Lyceum’s show is not afraid to explore the dark side to Lewis’s text: the White Witch is a real threat and her servant Maugrim (Ewan Donald, who also plays Mr Tumnus) is particularly terrifying. The show depicts scenes of real peril, which, whilst mostly well balanced with the comic and the magical, were still too much for some of the young audience. Several children in the rows infront of me had to leave in certain scenes. The Lyceum has said the show is suitable for all, but parents with children under six or so should exercise caution.

Nevertheless, the majority of the audience in the Lyceum’s auditorium were entranced by the proceedings. Andrew Panton’s fast-paced direction, Becky Minto’s gorgeous set designs and Claire McKenzie’s musical direction help ensure The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is an enchanting, veritable Christmas treat, sure to delight the whole family.

Reviews by Francesca Street

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The Blurb

“It's a magic wardrobe. There's a wood inside it, and it's snowing, and there's a faun and a witch and it's called Narnia. Come and see.”

This Christmas, The Lyceum is delighted to present C.S. Lewis’ classic tale The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Step with us through a dusty wardrobe and into a snowy landscape filled with thrilling adventure. Meet the majestic Aslan, the loveable Mr Tumnus and his fantastical friends and join their quest to free Narnia from the spell of the White Witch.

A festive treat of music and song from the team that brought you The Lyceum’s magical festive shows The BFG and A Christmas Carol.

Suitable for all ages.