Just in time for the holidays Sally Cookson’s (Jane Eyre) “big production” of C.S Lewis’s classic children’s book comes to the Bridge Theatre, the 1950′ novel of four children who fall through a wardrobe into the magical land of Narnia. It is not the easiest book to adapt for the stage, especially for us grown up children who loved the book. But Cookson brings you Narnia with a war theme and bounds of imagination.
The play starts with the audience being given green identity cards and as a 1940’s band belts out, the four Pevensies children Peter, Lucy, Edmund and Susan board a train as evacuees during the Second World war, ending up in the musty dusty home of Professor Kirks (Wil Johnson doubles as Aslan). This as in the book is where the adventure begins when Keziah Joseph’s Lucy stumbles through the wardrobe into Narnia, where it has been winter for the last 100 years ruled by Laura Elphinstone’s perfectly chilling White Witch, just chilling just enough to be effective but not too scary for the age 4 and over audience.
Rae Smith’s set is dominated by simple props and puppets, cleverly choreographed to create effects like the snow filled winter wonderland that is Narnia. Endless white sheets are rushed through the auditorium and actors create the ripple effect of snowstorms and as the sheets rest on the stage Lucy is walking in the snow in Narnia talking to Stuart Neal’s Mr Tumnus.
The arrival of the White Witch is a dramatic one and as the introduction of Aslan on the stage. Credit can be given to Puppetry director Craig Leo if it is magic, he set out to achieve then it is a magic right there on stage with the ensemble cast whose job of bringing the woodland creatures and the mighty Aslan puppets, to life was flawless.
Johnson’s Aslan is majestic as the lion who is destined to help the children fulfil the well-known prophecy which transforms Narnia to a place where the snow thaws and summertime resumes. Edmund is tempted by Turkish Delights which leads him into trouble, and he is enslaved by the White Witch. With Aslan’s help Peter and Lucy and Susan seek to break the spell and rid Narnia from the hold of the White Witch.
The four adult actors who play the children John Leader (Edmund), Femi Akinfolarin (Peter) Keziah Joseph (Lucy) and Shalisa James feed into the fantastical production making it “believable”, they never filter in their performance.
Cookson’s The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe keeps the heart of the book bringing just the right amount of fantasy for us to be lost in Narnia. Great family show that takes you into the world of C.S Lewis. 9 November – 2 February 2020.
The details: Ticket from £15
Premium tickets available Length
Approx 2hr 30min including a 20 minute interval
Group Family Rate 4+ WHERE – The Bridge Theatre -3 Potters Fields Park London, SE1 2SG