Review: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe at The REP | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Review: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe at The REP

Rosie Twells is transported to the magical land of Narnia by Tessa Walker's production of 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe'.

...the tale is brought to life on stage with sparkle and wonder...
Spell-binding and magical are just two of the words that could aptly describe The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, directed by Tessa Walker. Based on C. S. Lewis’s storybook, the tale of four children, Peter, Edmund, Susan and Lucy, evacuated from London during World War II to live in a remote country house, is brought to life on stage with sparkle and wonder.

The sibling bond between the four central characters was dominant throughout the play and it was easy for the audience to attribute personal qualities to each one. A stand out performance was given by James Thackeray, who played the role of Edmund, and displayed perfectly the two sides to his character: gluttony versus gratitude. His desperation to become Prince under the control of the White Witch is surpassed at the end of the play as he realises that blood is thicker than water, or snow in this case.

Whilst some of the character attributes were exaggerated slightly for the benefit of the children watching the show, there was plenty for the adults to enjoy. Mr Tumnus (Jo Servi) confidently directed Lucy, and the audience, round the fantasy world of Narnia with charisma and wit. Likewise, Mr and Mrs Beaver (Thomas Aldridge and Sophia Nomvete) were comical geniuses, especially in regards to the high energy performances they sustained throughout the dramatisation, alongside the lyrical word play of their song. Anyone who can rhyme ‘fishes’, ‘dishes’ and ‘delicious’ in three lines and still gain several laughs from the audience deserves an award for services to comedy in my book.

'Allison McKenzie fitted the role of the evil royal queen precisely: her regal and imposing authority shone through in almost every scene she was present.'
In addition, set design was one of the most striking elements to this production. The number of different scenes was astounding and it was interesting to see the intricate details which allowed seamless transitions between acts. An access portal into Narnia was represented by the wardrobe door, whilst a silhouette screen functioned as rooms in Professor Kirke’s house and part of the snowy landscape. The White Witch’s castle was visually imposing as the harsh, angular icicles hanging down from the walls contrasted against the later scenes of Aslan’s return to power and the revival of summer. Allison McKenzie fitted the role of the evil royal queen precisely: her regal and imposing authority shone through in almost every scene she was present.

...the audience were strongly encouraged to use their own imagination...
The wonderful efforts of the design team cannot go unnoticed here either. For example, Aslan, voiced by Nuno Silva, constituted of three separate puppets, each with space in between his head, front and back. The result was a magnificent, three-dimensional lion sculpture constructed in origami. This was an extremely clever technique used by technicians as it strongly encouraged the audience to use their own imagination and be part of the illusions taking place on stage. Aslan’s presence took on greater significance in the final battle scene, as the sheer magnitude of the puppet dominated the floor, defeating the White Witch in the process and proving that good always conquers over evil.

...the play drew upon the importance of adventures, magic, honesty and trust for children...
The final song of the play drew upon the importance of adventures, magic, honesty and trust for children and this was all made possible by the creative inspiration that a theatre setting provides. It is only in this environment where bewitching and captivating performances can truly provoke the idea that anything can happen. For the two-hour and twenty-minute show, the entire audience was transported to another world and imaginations roamed free in a magical land.

Online Sport Editor and third year BA English student



Published

6th December 2015 at 10:21 am

Last Updated

14th January 2016 at 4:02 pm



Images from

The Birmingham REP Theatre



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