Theatre

The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe At Mayflower Theatre, Southampton Review

TICKETS TO SEE THE SHOW WERE GIFTED TO THE REVIEWER AND GUEST FOR THE PURPOSES OF WRITING THE REVIEW.

Reviewed by Lily Davis

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a beautiful story that very few people will be unaware of. Voted the nations favourite book in 2019, this epic tale by CS Lewis is a masterpiece of fantasy and storytelling, transporting us to magical world of talking creatures, ice queens and a season of Winter that has lasted 100 years. I was thrilled when asked to review the latest stage adaptation of this enormously successful book, with the show taking to the Stage at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton. I don’t know who was more excited, myself or my sons, aged 12 and 9.
The show centres around 4 young children Lucy, Susan, Edmond and Peter. Siblings, evacuated to Scotland in an attempt to escape the horrors and destruction of wartime London, they soon learn that life will not be as boring as they first anticipated. They find themselves living in a massive house belonging to a professor and his pet cat who provided many laughs! The story develops as the youngest sibling, Lucy, discovers a magical world through the back of an ancient wardrobe in the spare room. Entering the magical world of Narnia, we follow Lucy as her adventure unfolds and as she encourages her siblings to follow her through into this beautiful, new world. But this beautiful new land is not one of peace and harmony. Soon they discover that the war and destruction they have left behind is also happening in Narnia. This time between the wicked White Witch and Aslan.

As someone who has read the book and watched many of the films and TV drama adaptations, I was really interested to see how the production team and show writers were going to adapt this epic novel for viewing on a theatre stage. The answer quickly presented itself; with magnificent staging, amazing special effects and stunning puppetry that just drew the audience in. I felt totally enthralled watching it, I was there in Narnia alongside them. The opening scene tells us of the train journey the children must take to travel to the safety of Scotland and it is really beautiful in its portrayal of that journey. Miniature train carriages moving across the stage with the actors moving in a dream like state portraying fear of the unknown, sadness yet anticipation. I was hooked immediately and upon noticing the expressions on the faces of my children, I knew they were also. The visual effects are just stunning. From the beautiful and effective use of the floaty cape belonging to the White Witch to the imaginative use of Turkish Delight as Edmond devours it, all just superb and classy uses of special effects to enthral and captivate.

The show had a real folksy feel to it. With the use of musicians, weaving in and out of the action on stage. Making it a part of the narrative, I felt was really effective and added a new dimension as a member of the audience. The songs were lively, upbeat and fresh and you couldn’t help but move in your seat as they were performed with enthusiasm, note perfect, with vocal harmonies you long for.

The cast were spectacularly. The Pevensie siblings were just wonderful. They made us laugh, cry and everything in between. In particular Lucy, played by Karise Yansen, who led the party on their adventure through the wardrobe. Samantha Womack was a scary and convincing White Witch and she played the role beautifully. Other cast favourites were Jez Unwin who played the role of everyone’s favourite fawn Mr Tumnus and Chris Jared as the striking Aslan alongside his magnificent puppet namesake. But for us it was Mr Beaver who stole the show, played by the wonderful Sam Buttery. He was utterly hilarious with laugh out loud lines but also played with warmth and sincerity.
The Lion, the Witch and the wardrobe will transport you back. To when you first read the book, first watched the TV show but more importantly to that time where you first believed in magic! A must see.

Rating: 4/5

Tickets from £24.50
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton from 23/11/21 until 27/11/21
For more information or to book tickets visit https://www.mayflower.org.uk/whats-on/the-lion-the-witch-and-the-wardrobe-2021/

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