This year’s festive offering from the Lyceum, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe opens with a surprisingly melancholy air as the Pevensie children bid their parents farewell.
* * * * *
Fans of the Chronicles of Narnia will observe that the scene rather poignantly foreshadows the fate of the Pevensies in The Last Battle.
For now, however, Lucy, Peter, Susan and Edmund are at the beginning of their adventure, on the verge of entering a frozen land where Christmas never comes and a cruel queen wages a cold war against her subjects.
It is director Andrew Panton’s playful use of doors, that really pulls the audience out of the adult world and into the children’s universe, crossing the threshold of stuffy adult life and stepping into a wonderland of mythic creatures, fantastic food stuffs and epic battles between good and evil.
Using composer Claire McKenzie and lyricist Scott Gilmour’s music to great effect throughout the production, Panton paints a picture of the the delights and joys of childhood played out in stark contrast to the concerns of the adult world around them.
This works particularly well in the more challenging parts of the story, the sacrifice of Aslan for Peter’s treachery for instance, where the children are shielded from the decisions of the adults around them and the violence of the original scene is downplayed to accommodate a young audience.
That said, Theresa Heskins’ adaptation of the tale is remarkably faithful, throwing in some descriptive touches that are charmingly reminiscent of being read to while maintaining a suitable narrative momentum.
Lewis Howden, playing for laughs, as the White Witch’s sleigh driver does an impressive job of stealing the show out from under his terrifying mistress’s clutches as well as Ben Onwukwe’s dignified and unexpected portrayal of Aslan.
Claire-Marie Seddon’s Lucy set the right tone for James Rottger’s Peter, Charlotte Miranda Smith’s Susan, and Cristian Ortega’s Edmund to play against. Their performances immersed enough to be engaging and relatable guides into the action, even if it didn’t feel as if they took any risks with exploring their characters’ limits.
Certainly worth coming in from the cold and checking your fur coat at the kiosk for.
Run ends January 3