Writer: C S Lewis
Adapter: Theresa Heskins
Director: Andrew Panton
Lyricist: Scott Gilmour
Reviewer: Dominic Corr
The Royal Lyceum Theatre’s 50th anniversary year is continuing its successful rhythm. Closing the year out with its festive production of C.S Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.
The story is one most of us should be familiar with, the monumental classic set during the Blitz, sees four young children evacuated to a grand mansion in the countryside. Within the walls, they discover a rather dusty and unprepossessing wardrobe. Inside though exists Narnia, a land placed under permanent winter by the White Witch. With the announcement of the great Aslan’s return, a traitorous sibling and a glorious final battle, Narnia is a land filled with adventure.
While one might find it customary to discuss the writing, directing or performers first, it feels only right in such a heavily atmospheric show to give primary praise to the creative and technical teams. The lighting, set, costume and effects in this show are, for lack of a more eloquent description, gorgeous. The way in which the action transitions from the wardrobe into Narnia is well-thought out and crafted with real quality.
The performances are universally excellent, Edmund (Christian Ortega) and Lucy (Claire-Marie Seddon) manage to encapsulate childlike adventure, mischievousness and innocence perfectly. The chemistry they have with each other is striking and the comedic performances of Gail Watson and John Kielty as Mister and Misses Beaver enhance the festive feel of the production. Though one must single out Lewis Howden as the White Witch’s servant, stealing as he does most scenes he’s in.
It’s painful to pick faults in such a sublimely beautiful production, but there are tiny flaws. Pauline Knowles as the White Witch and Ben Onwukwe as Aslan the lion give it their all and provide performances that are enjoyable, but their interpretations of the characters are lacking the requisite grandeur for such giants of literature. Knowles as the Witch, in particular, has moments of menace and incites genuine fear, but they are too few and far between. Sadly, too, the Witches demise is lacklustre after an intense effect filled duel with Aslan.
The minor flaws are only obvious because of the magnificence of the rest of the production and there’s a tangible feeling of joy radiating around the auditorium throughout. In short, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is a mesmerising triumph for the Lyceum.
Runs until 3 January 2016 | Image: Tommy Ga-Ken Wa