The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe has been enchanting both children and adults alike for over 60 years in book form, but this Christmas the icy forests and green fields of Narnia have come to life in a stunning new stage adaptation at Birmingham Rep.
The timeless classic tells the story of four siblings; Peter (Michael Lanni), Susan (Leonie Elliot), Edmund (James Thackeray) and Lucy (Emilie Fleming) who stumble upon an enchanted wardrobe which takes them through a gateway into another world – a world where animals speak and mythical creatures roam.
The four embark on a fantastic adventure as they battle with the wicked White Witch who has cast a spell bringing about an eternal winter on the land of Narnia. The children have to find the courage to break the spell and return land’s rightful ruler, Aslan the Lion, to his throne.
As it’s a Christmas show, the classic fairytale seems to have been adapted for a younger audience but don’t let that put you off. The 2hr 40min show whisks you through the first part of the story, right up until where Lucy finds herself in Narnia, which is where the story really begins.
The puppets bring a whole new element to the show. From the small forest animals to the White Witch’s minions, they move with fluidity and fit in perfectly amongst the actors. Aslan the Lion is a true spectacle though. When he appears on stage for the first time in act one you can hear the audience gasping awe and his sheer size. Controlled by three members of the ensemble and voiced by Nuno Silva, the puppet controls the stage when he appears, issuing orders to the Narnians before (spoiler alert) finally defeating the White Witch.
Michael, Leonie, James and Emilie who play the four siblings do so with great ease. Michael as Peter takes charge, always looking out for his younger brothers and sisters, whilst Emilie’s ability to portray the innocence of Lucy is refreshing. You quickly learn to hate James who plays Edmund – not because of his ability as an actor – the complete opposite in fact. He plays the perfect middle sibling, always trying to cause arguments, which quickly backfires. Leonie plays the maturer of the sisters as Susan, showing concern and care for the rest of the family.
A mixture of fantastical set, puppetry and music The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is a fantastic family night out, providing an alternative Christmas treat to that of panto.
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe runs at Birmingham Rep until 16 January. For more information and to book tickets visit www.birmingham-rep.co.uk