THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE
adapted by Steven Luke Walker from the novel by C S Lewis.
The North Wall South Parade Summertown OX2 7JN To 4 January 2014.
10am 11, 18, 24 Dec
2pm 10-12, 14, 15, 17-19, 21-24, 26-31 Dec, 2-4 Jan.
6pm 15, 22, 23, 26, 29 Dec.
7.30pm 12-14, 19-21, 27, 28, 30 Dec, 2-4 Jan.
Relaxed Performance 2 Jan 2pm.
Runs 2hr 30min One interval.
TICKETS: 01865 319450.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 8 December.
Enduring story, but why the music?
Creation Theatre has lived up to its name. Apart from a rich outdoor Shakespeare repertory it has enacted epic tales in an Oxford bookshop, the Bible in a Jericho Church and developed manifold youth work. All on zero public funding.
And, after a series of fabulous Christmas tales spun in the fantastic surrounds of the Spiegeltent, it transferred to the North Wall, where Christmases recently past having seen Creation’s innovative A Christmas Carol and imaginative Aladdin.
If anywhere has the right to adapt C S Lewis’s ‘Narnia’ children’s novel The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe it must be Lewis’s Oxford. It’s to an Oxford don that four polite siblings, Susan, Peter, Lucy and Edmund are evacuated when war breaks out in 1939.
In his rambling old house they find, in reverse order from the title, a wardrobe that can let them into a fantasy world – a tardis of its time – a malign Snow-Queen Witch, then the much-heralded Lion Aslan, who kick-starts Lewis’s Christian allegory.
Without that, Aslan’s ability to return from death merely makes things rather easy, while the iconography of kings, queens and knights reflects the author’s work on medieval literature
It might seem rather cosy nowadays, but so are many children’s novels that stand the test of time, and this is the time of year for indulging such material. Besides, both the Royal Shakespeare Company and, especially, North Staffordshire’s New Vic director Theresa Heskins, have shown the piece can be thrillingly theatrical.
But not in this musical version. Tunes constantly seek for significance by emotional phrases yet remain unmemorable, with vapid, unexciting lyrics. The songs interrupt rather than develop an action that is distinct from their nebulous style.
Charlotte Conquest’s production is cramped on the all-purpose staircase set which is probably the best Neil Irish can practically supply. There’s a lot of running up and down stairs for little dramatic reason. And little sense the script and score were written with this space in mind. Among the cast, Andy Owens shows Edmund’s sense of isolation, while Anna McGarahan gives Lucy a strong sense of eagerness and discovery.
Aslan/Father Christmas/Evacuation Officer: Alistair Barron.
Mr Beaver/Professor: Michael Diana.
Susan: Ellie Kirk.
Mr Tumnus/Maugrim/Wolf/Reindeer: Nathan Lubbock Smith.
Edmund: Andy Owens.
Lucy: Anna McGarahan.
White Witch/Mrs Macready: Gemma Morsley.
Mrs Beaver/Mrs Pevensie: Chloe Taylor.
Peter: Raymond Walsh.
Director: Charlotte Conquest.
Designer: Neil Irish.
Lighting: Ashley Bale.
Sound: Matt Eaton.
Movement: Aidan Treays.
Puppets: Polly Beestone.
Fight director: Philip d’Orléans.
Assistant director: Josh Ward.
Movement assistant: Vanessa Cook.