As we sat in front of the raised circular stage, the challenge seemed daunting. With no curtains, no walls behind the stage, how would they recreate something as magical as Narnia, from where would the actors appear, how would the props be changed? London theatre was always amazing, but this 2.5 hour long show promised to show some real wonders.
Every bit of space was used effectively, wide large screens ran all along the circular tent and digital imagery was used to depict the changing seasons. The cupboard emerged from the floor of the stage and the children went in only to reappear in a white Narnia with snow drifting gently over us. The actors used the aisles between the audiences to emerge and exit the stage, making it very interactive. Aslan made a grand entry with three people, acting as his head, fore and hind legs. The white witch’s evil shone through her eyes. Actors on stilts and bionic legs were the trees and animals helpers.
The best performances were from Sally Dexter as the white witch, Rebecca Benson as Lucy, Jonny Weldon as Edmund, Sophie Louise Dann as Mrs Beaver; David Suchet as Aslan’s voice did enough justice to Liam Neeson’s Aslan in the movie.
There wasn’t much to fault in this amazing production by Rupert Gould; it could be said that Peter’s and Susan’s characters were not as strongly etched as the movie, the lion puppet could have had some fur, as the ribcage made it look rather skeletal; and if only they could have made the closed tent a little cooler – but then who knew it would be about 30 degrees in London that day!
As we left Narnia and trooped out into the wide gardens, my son asking when we could come back and see it again, I applauded the artists behind this performance- this was art at its most abundant!
Mona lives in London and is a writer by choice and
a telecom sales person by profession.