DramaFamilyFestive 15/16ReviewSouth West

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – The Sherman Theatre, Cardiff

Writer: C.S. Lewis

Adaptor: Theresa Heskins

Director: Rachel O’Riordan

Composer: Conor Mitchell

Musical Director: Gareth Wyn Griffiths

Based on C.S. Lewis’ traditional first instalment of The Chronicles of Narnia, Theresa Heskin’s stage adaptation of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe tells the tale of four siblings who discover the magical lands of Narnia, stumbling through the infamous wardrobe and into another world.

Following the adventures of Lucy (Gwawr Loader), Edmund (Matthew Durkan), Peter (Joseph Tweedale) and Susan (Elin Philips) as they meet colourful characters and the wicked White Witch (Anita Reynolds) through the forest, Rachel O’Riordan’s direction of The Lion is a cross between traditional fairy tale and modern-day musical.

The all-singing, all-dancing (literally) cast takes turns to narrate the story, switching in and out of characters and all playing various instruments as the cleverly formulated staging sweeps them away into different scenes and landscapes. There are outbursts of song, lots of exuberant, enthusiastic exclaiming, and more than a little sense of adventure, made all the more real by the Professor’s famous question to the children, when, as he is asked about the existence of Narnia, he replies, ‘But how do you know that it is not true?’

Particularly mentionable is Reynolds’ performance as the White Witch – she is sassy and commanding, wearing a white, glittering jump-suit similar to that made famous by Elvis – and her costume, makeup and characterisation is fresh, clever and brilliantly executed.

Similarly, Keiron Self as the Professor is energetic and entertaining, injecting a sense of comedy and fun into the performance. Mr Tumnus, too, played by Pete Ashmore, is a nice re-incarnation of a much-loved literary character.

The festive atmosphere is pleasant and the show entertains and amuses in a light-hearted way. While perhaps lacking some of the gutsy camaraderie and heroic bravery conveyed in Lewis’ book, and the memorable film adaptation – Aslan (Matthew Woodyatt), for example, is more reminiscent of the scared lion in The Wizard of Oz, than the roaring saviour we typically know him as, TheLion, the Witch and the Wardrobeis a family-friendly production that is worth a watch, and will help to inspire a little Christmas spirit.

Runs until 31 December 2015 | Image: Contributed

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