The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

Birmingham Rep

*****

A NEW and loveable Lion King will be thrilling West Midlands theatre-goers for the next few weeks after making a brilliant debut in this ever-popular fantasy story by C.S. Lewis.

When the 10ft high beast – built on War Horse lines – prowled on stage during the second act of the opening night performance, you could have heard a pin drop in the auditorium. It was an awesome moment in a marvellous show.

With puppeteers Nuno Silva (voice and head), David Albury and James Charlton operating the lion with great skill, King Aslan is a huge hit, though you wonder if the top part of the operators costumes had matched the lion’s golden colour they might have blended in even better.

Aslan produces a couple of fearsome roars, but he has his gentle side, too, and is a heroic figure as the four siblings, sent to live in a country house to escape the wartime bombing in London, enter the magical world of Narnia through the back of a wardrobe and become involved in a battle against the wicked White Witch.

Michael Lanni (Peter), Leonie Elliott (Susan), Emilie Fleming (Lucy) and James Thackeray (Edmund) are all convincing in their roles, and some sparkling humour comes from Thomas Aldridge and Sophia Nomvete (Mr and Mrs Beaver), while Allison McKenzie is excellent as the pretty but poisonous White Witch who can throw a real wobbly.

But overall, puppets rule, and there are many other amazing creatures – designed by Jo Lakin and Mervyn Millar -performing  in a cracking show directed by Tessa Walker.

The pleasant music composed by Shaun Davey makes an important impact on the production, and it is well played by the orchestra directed by Neil MacDonald.

It’s an emotional, happy-ending show with some well-staged battles which will be a hit with adults and children. The wardrobe continues opening to a remarkable world until 16.01.16

Paul Marston

Battling for Narnia

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