Review: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe

Most of us are familiar with C.S. Lewis’ “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe”, if not from reading the books as children, then by seeing the Hollywood version on the big screen a few years back.

Now the story has been brought to life once again, this time at the ThreeSixty Theatre in London’s Kensington Gardens.

Set in a giant tent with a revolving circular stage at its centre, director Rupert Goold uses actors, puppets, magic and moving images projected onto the tent ceiling to tell the story of the four Pevensie children’s trip to the magical world of Narnia.

If you have seen The Lion King, Lord of the Rings or War Horse on stage, some of what you see will be very familiar.

The human-operated puppets from the National Theatre’s production of War Horse are the inspiration behind Aslan - touchingly voiced by David Suchet.

The Narnians gallop around the stage on stilts and swing through the air on trapeze ropes with moves that will certainly thrill the younger members of the audience.

The songs are largely forgettable, as are some of the performances – most disappointingly Mr Tumnus, usually a favourite among children. But Sally Dexter plays a wonderfully wicked White Witch and Jonny Weldon is amusing as the traitor, Edmund.

After the airy first half, it is the wonderful Aslan that gives the production real heart as he guides the children in their journey to overcome the White Witch. Some moments are very dark – and perhaps rather scary for younger members of the audience - but just as in the book, Aslan’s death and resurrection is the strongest point in the production.

It’s not likely to be award-winning theatre, but being a children’s story, it’s only right that it should be enjoyed by children, and this most certainly will.