Local theatre reviewer, Polly, reviews the December production of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.
“I saw the Thursday performance of this children’s favourite and what a charming affair it was. The very first thing to say is how exciting it was to be in the Nomad Theatre and find it buzzing with life and the auditorium full to capacity. Wonderful!!
This is a lovely story and a favourite with children since it was written. The Nomads’ performance retained and enhanced all its magic with beautiful and simple sets, hugely effective makeup and wonderful costuming. The entry of each character was a delight. As one would hope, the entry of the White Witch in her sleigh was stunning and there was an audible intake of breath as she glided onto the stage.
Of course, although these are very important factors in a performance, the main responsibility for delivering the plot is down to the actors. We were not disappointed. The children in particular were excellent. Eleanor Cain as Lucy gave a very clear and committed performance throughout, Susan, played by Poppy Finnigan was equally positive and focussed, Ethan Tang though sometimes a little under projected, was physically convincing and remained absolutely in character. The principal children’s role was taken by Hazel Eve playing Peter. She remained “in charge” throughout and clearly enjoyed the fighting scenes and was generally very credible.
Supporting the children were the adult roles. Mrs Macready (Helen Dixon) with her withering looks, stern voice and cutting Scots accent was enough to frighten anyone, she was equally scary as the White Witch. Both roles were very well developed and her projection and general movement around the stage, excellent. Mr Tumnus (Matt Weaver), the fawn, was very carefully considered and the facial expression, movement and the very clear voice made for a character we could immediately relate to. So sweet when he shared his inability to be cruel and then to discover that he had been captured by the White Witch!!!!! It was quite a relief when he reappeared later.
Mr and Mrs Beaver (Iain Watson and Elaine Burns respectively) were wonderful. Their movements and especially their “paws” were especially endearing. Michael Ayres as Maugrim was terrifying and his makeup was particularly good. I think we ought to have hissed a bit when he came on but I think, as an audience, we were a little shy of throwing in panto conventions! His companion, the dwarf played by Amelia Tang sustained her movements and character very well as she shadowed her mentor, Maugrim.
Emily Ingold’s wolf and Santa’s elf were nicely contrasted, while the leopards (Izzy Teasdale who also played the lovely rabbit, Jenny Bridges also an adorable deer and Amelia Potten the baby deer and the acrobatic little leopard) were a little gentler than we might have expected, but then Aslan, the lion (Owain Williams) wasn’t the most fierce of Kings of the jungle!
Owain played the dual roles of the Professor and Aslan. Of the two, the physicalisation of the professor was the more successful. Aslan, the loveable lion was sometimes a little hesitant, but his physical presence was very effective and I loved his roar.
Added to all this excellence were the impressive and quite unexpected pyrotechnics enhanced by some exciting lighting. The almost inevitable appearance of dry ice just added to the whole sense of magic. “Voices off” were very well handled and the music was the finishing touch.
You had a full house on the evening on which I attended and I believe you are sold out for some of the remaining performances so, well done and thank you again for a most enjoyable evening at the theatre!
I have deliberately not mentioned Father Christmas till the end. Colin Barnard’s appearance was the archetypal reminder of the kindly chap who epitomises Christmas for children and Colin did not let us down. It also gives me and excuse to end my review by wishing everyone a fabulous Christmas and a very Happy New Year.