Children's classic a sheer delight

THE Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe at the Kenneth More Theatre last week was two hours of sheer delight – all whirling action, fabulous costumes and fine singing by a talented group of young and veteran performers. It was an appropriate offering just be

THE Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe at the Kenneth More Theatre last week was two hours of sheer delight - all whirling action, fabulous costumes and fine singing by a talented group of young and veteran performers.

It was an appropriate offering just before Easter, since C S Lewis's much-loved fable is a retelling of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.

The toughest roles fell to the quartet playing the Pevensie children, who discover the land of Narnia, and have to find their way in a land of extraordinary creatures.

Georgia Permutt was relentlessly perky as Lucy, Harry Ward found the right note of sneakiness as Edmund, and Kesia Walton as Susan and Phillip Rowlands as Peter, were charming. But all of them were thoroughly upstaged by the creatures of Narnia, starting with Aaron Richards as Mr Tumnus, a lithe and funny faun who meets Lucy on her first foray through the wardrobe.

Jo Wickham was an alluring White Witch, a reminder that evil doesn't always come covered in warts and bad hair. John Gadd earned laughs as Grumpskin, a wizened elf, armed with a whip, who accompanied the witch, and mainly served to echo what she had just said. Lucy Daldy and Joe Curran were a winsome pair of Cockney beavers. Back in the real world, Michael Brackley twinkled as Professor Kirke.

Towering over all, both physically and in plot terms, Lee Thompson was a roaring, shaggily magnificent lion as Aslan, the Christ-figure of the piece.

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The play sagged noticeably after Aslan's triumphant resurrection, but the cast pressed on through the anti-climax to bask in well-earned applause.

The magic of this production by the SideShow Theatre Company was less in the individual performances than in the solid ensemble playing.

The cast moved in, around and through the simple but effective set with confidence. Some of the most striking moments came when the stage was full.

Even the scene changes, crisply and precisely executed, were fun to watch.

And kudos to Phillip Rowlands for the superb costumes for the principal characters.

- ROBERT BARR

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