A quick personal story. 15 years ago I had tickets to watch The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe at the Birmingham Rep, but the week before I was due to go, I was rushed into hospital and then gave birth to my son, 7 weeks earlier than expected. I have waited a long time, therefore, to get the chance to finally see this show on the Rep stage, but this morning I was lucky enough to be able to see it in all its sublime glory. It is simply beautiful, well worth any wait.
The story stays faithful to CS Lewis’s classic tale of the four siblings, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy, who discover another world, Narnia, beyond the confines of an old wardrobe, a land where it is always Winter, a land where the ‘Sons of Adam’ and ‘Daughters of Eve’ are but legends, a land ruled by the tyranny of the White Witch, but where, with the return of Aslan the Lion, a miracle may just occur.
This is a wonderful production that is incredibly staged. The scenes flow seamlessly into one another, from the real world, to the world of Narnia, and are cleverly done, with flying doors and whirling stages and characters. The use of puppetry is always something the Rep does so well (I still remember the glorious dogs from 101 Dalmatians) in this case we have a stunning, majestic Aslan, and the brilliant, scene stealing Schroedinger. The songs are perfect, they sound like classics on the first hearing and had the audience spontaneously clapping along.
There is an eerie, otherworldly feel to all the action, with the darkness of the set perfectly characterising a world where it is always Winter. The cast are also perfect in their roles, with Daniel Apea, Liyah Summers, Kudzai Mangombe and Jerome Scott very convincing as the Pevensie children, Peter, Susan, Lucy and Edmund – you genuinely believe them to be siblings and feel their support and love for one another. Cath Whitefield is stunning as the White Witch, truly awe inspiring in her evilness – you get the feeling the audience would boo if they weren’t so scared, whilst Oliver Hoare brings a majestic power to the personification of Aslan. The supporting cast, including Jez Unwin as Mr Tumnus, are all so impressive.
If you are looking for something a little different from a panto this season, then The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe should be top of your ‘to see’ list. It is simply breathtaking.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – Birmingham Rep until 28th January
Click here for ticket information