Review: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, New Vic Theatre, Basford
CAPTURING the intimacy of a much-loved book is a formidable task, but watching the New Vic's production of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was like coming in from a winter's evening to be told the tale in front of a roaring fire.
The atmosphere enveloped the audience from the moment they stepped into the theatre to be shrouded in the smoke from the steam engines before child evacuees Susan, Peter, Edmund and Lucy waved goodbye to their parents at the train station.
Set partly in Britain of the Second World War, and mostly in the magical land of Narnia, the book was published in 1950 by CS Lewis who had himself taken in evacuees.
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His imagination is done justice by the New Vic which uses its theatre-in-the-round design to help us in to Lewis's world.
One moment, Narnia's evil White Witch was showing a box of her deadly Turkish Delights to a couple of wide-eyed tots on the front row, the next she was appearing at the back, cackling manically on her sleigh.
The witch was played with such verve by Megan Hall that some of us were almost hoping she'd get away with turning half her subjects to stone, banishing Father Christmas and forcing a Britannia Stadium-style permanent winter on Narnia.
However, the production stuck faithfully to Lewis's tale of good and evil. Without wishing to spoil the story, it is worth noting that a couple of the characters suffer some grisly treatment which might not be suitable for very young children.
My boys, aged six and three, were not upset – they reckon there's nothing more grisly than their dad first thing in the morning - but the majority of the youngsters in the packed audience ranged from six or seven to teens.
So, this is definitely recommended, and that's not just because I fear a midnight knock on the door from Stephen Finegold's terrifying secret-policeman wolf.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is at the New Vic Theatre until January 23. For further details, contact the box office on 01782 717962.