The Lion the witch and the Wardrobe in London: A review

The Lion and the Witch in the new production (c) Alastair Muir

A few weeks ago, the CTS met Premier Christian Radio. They subsequently invited one of the staff to see the new Adaptation of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in Kensington Gardens, London. We sent life-long Lewis fan and CTS Marketing officer, Simone Finaldi, to have a look.

“There is always a sense of trepidation when you see an adaptation of something that has meant much to you, and Narnia has.

I had many questions: How are they going to show Aslan’s death? How will I react to Lucy’s character, the heart of the story? For the record, I loved her in the books, found her annoying in the BBC’s 1989 adaptation and thought Georgie Henley was nigh-on perfect in the big-budget 2005 film.

The first thing I noticed, however, was how beautifully setup the area surrounding the theatre is. Wooden decking, picnic tables, a grassy area to enjoy your pre-performance sandwiches, a perfect way to start a family evening out.

But what really matters is the show itself. As the name of the production company suggests, Three Sixty’s show uses the large white tent you are sitting in as a projection screen, meaning that when Lucy, who I did like, finds that magical land at the back of the wardrobe, you feel the cold she feels through the clever use of blue colours and sound. And again when Aslan seems defeated, the darkness, fear and hopelessness do seem to surround you thanks to mainly red hue projections.

The talking animals are a mixture of actors and puppets heavily influenced by the National Theatre’s massively successful War Horse, though sadly not as well done.

What I enjoyed most was the script, almost entirely taken from the book. I don’t hold with the “Re-vamp to make relevant” school of thought, believing as I do that if stories like this one are still so popular it is because they were brilliant in their original form.

Sally Dexter’s White Witch is suitably cold and scary. Her first meeting with Edmund and her offering him Turkish delight – showing that sin is attractive but never satisfies – is superbly played. Surprisingly, the arrival of Father Christmas that Lewis’ friend J.R.R Tolkien so hated because he thought it a non sequitur, was brilliantly done. Here, Father Christmas was played as a Norse nobleman or demi-god who was not at all out of place.

Biased as I clearly am here, there were things that did not work: the songs added nothing to the show and the puppet representing Aslan looked skeletal and over-large.

Kids will enjoy it though, comic relief is provided by the various animals and it all adds up to enjoyable entertainment for all the family. And in whatever form or medium, it remains a fantastic tale of sacrifice, repentance and redemption. Of Jesus’ love for sinners.”

For tickets or more information, visit the show’s website.

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