Author: Anne Hamilton

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Saturday, December 5th, 2015 at 9:14 pm
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Show Reviews

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Imagine a winter in which snow falls and sleigh-bells ring but where Christmas can never come… The Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh does, and does it magnificently.

The theatre closes its 50th anniversary year with a festive production of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, adapted, by Theresa Hoskins, from C.S Lewis’ classic children’s novel, and directed by Andrew Panton.

Evacuated to a grand country mansion, four children: Peter (James Rottger), Susan Charlotte Miranda Smith), Edmund (Christian Ortega) and Lucy (Claire-Marie Seddon) play hide and seek in a large, dusty wardrobe, over-filled with fur coats, and through it they discover the world of Narnia. Condemned to be forever winter at the behest of (Pauline Knowles’) White Witch, the arrival of the children and the lion, Aslan, (played by Ben Onwukwe), leads to the traditional battle of good versus evil, a prophecy fulfilled, and the ultimate advent of spring.

The performances are universally strong – though the five year old I had in tow told me that the lion was too scruffy and ‘should have looked more important’ (he has a point) and that the ‘granny’ (housekeeper, Mrs Mcready) had too screechy a voice –  and the creative and technical teams surpass themselves. Becky Minto’s beautiful stage design and Simon Wilkinson’s excellent lighting make the transition from empty bedroom to magical, snowy, sun-setting Narnia, a triumph.

The five year old’s highlights were (Santa’s cameo taken for granted), Aslan racing across Narnia with Susan and Lucy riding on his back and (interestingly, but absolutely deserved) the songs of Claire McKenzie and Scott Gilmore. The production also led to a litany of questions – be warned – about resurrection, fighting, and is it really possible that anyone can stop Father Christmas having Christmas…

For me, I always harboured a deep dislike of the four Pevensie children: smug, prissy, self-righteous Kings and Queens-in-waiting, far too certain of their entitlement, but the four engaging, sibling-like performances in this production have, at last, cured me.

There are dark moments, menacing acts and hints of tragedy. But the overall message, irrespective of whether the audience is in tune with C.S Lewis’ original framework of Christianity, is one of warmth and light and hope. You can’t know but you can believe, goes one of the songs – you can interpret that how you like, but there was certainly magic in the theatre. A fitting end to the Lyceum’s hugely successful 2015.

****

Runs at the Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh, until 3rd January 2016 

Tuesdays-Saturdays at 7pm with Wednesday & Saturday matinees at 2pm

Box Office:  0131 248 4848

For more information: www.lyceum.org.uk

 

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