THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE
C S Lewis, adapted by Adrian Mitchell, Music by Shaun Davey
0121 236 4455
Runs: 2h 40m, one interval, to 16 January
Review: 28 November 2015, Alexander Ray Edser
A thrilling theatrical adventure
The CS Lewis original is given a truly impressive production by the Birmingham Rep in the Adrian Mitchell adaptation. Notwithstanding some areas that could be stronger, mentioned below, this tale of natural and unnatural magic, of adventure, of a quest for long-lasting peace and harmony is turned into an epic tale in Tessa Walker’s production, and supported by high production values. For slightly older children this is a a thrilling, theatrical journey that might, just might, help create a taste for live performance among them.
Much of the second half is given over to the four children’s engagement in the battle between Aslan and the White Witch. This is given more attention than is usual, not only satisfying a taste for such battles among the young audience, but also giving many opportunities to watch the thrilling Aslan puppet in action. The section could be improved if the story-telling could be made clearer, but it is still wonderful to watch.
The four ‘children’ work well together, with Emilie Fleming (Lucy) driving the first half along and carrying us with her. It’s the animals who really steal this show, though; Thomas Aldridge and Sophie Nomvete create a fine Beaver couple, with nicely drawn characters. And Nuno Silva (Aslan) holding us close to the drama.
The songs (Music by Shaun Davey) are at their best when they move the story along (which they don’t always.) The transition into the first song, when the faun, Mr Tumnus, tells what has happened to Narnia, is spell-binging. Jo Servi has a hauntingly beautiful voice, his song sounds as if t is carried on a mysterious breeze and provides the most magical moment of the show.
Jamie Vartan’s set works extremely smoothly, easefully changing from house to Narnia, and the Beavers’ home being built up from the floor is inspired. Colin Grenfell’s lighting adds to the magic, though some sections are too dark to be seen clearly. Tessa Walker (who directs) ensures a good rhythm. And the total whole is a memorable experience; just what the doctor orders.
David Albury: Ensemble
Thomas Aldridge: Mr Beaver / Ensemble
Charles Armstrong: Professor / Father Christmas / Ensemble
Danielle Bird: Grumskin / Puppeteer / Rumbelbuffin / Stilt Walker / Ensemble
James Charlton: Ensemble
Leonie Elliott: Susan Pevensie / Ensemble
Emilie Fleming: Lucy Pevensie
Emily Goodenough: Ensemble / Movement Captain
Michael Lanni: Peter Pevensie / Ensemble
Allison McKenzie: White Witch / Mrs MacCready / Ensemble
Sophia Nomvete: Mrs Beaver / Ensemble
Jo Servi: Mr Tumnus / Ensemble
Nuno Silva: Aslan / Ensemble
James Thackeray: Edmund Pevensie
Tessa Walker : Director
Jamie Vartan: Designer
Tim Jackson: Musical Supervisor, Arranger
Colin Grenfell: Lighting Designer
Emma Laxton: Sound Designer
Neil MacDonald: Musical Director
Polly Bennett: Movement Director
Mervyn Millar: Puppetry Director
Jo Lakin, Mervyn Millar: Puppet Designers
Richard Pinner: Magic Consultant
Polly Jerrold: Casting Director