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Review: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, at Bridge Theatre

05 December, 2019 — By Angela Cobbinah

Wil Johnson in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Photo: Brinkhoff Moegenburg

WHO can resist the idea of entering a magical land via that most mundane items of furniture, the wardrobe?

That is the enduring charm of CS Lewis’s 1950s classic which allows for the as-if-in-a dream events that follow in Narnia, a benighted land “where it is always winter but never Christmas”.

It’s a rich seam for drama, and director Sally Cookson does it proud with the help of some evocative stage design (Rae Smith), imaginative puppetry (Craig Leo) and atmospheric live music (Benji Bower), not to mention a brilliant ensemble pulling out all the stops from beginning to end.

Before the stage curtains even open, the audience becomes part of the story as uniformed members of the cast walk around the auditorium to ready them for evacuation.

This is the normally overlooked back story of the book’s Narnia adventurers, four miserable child evacuees sent to the Scottish home of an eccentric professor and left to their own devices.

Our senses thus suitably heightened, we receive another jolt as giant white sheets are carried billowing down the aisles of the auditorium and on to the stage as snow against a jagged backdrop of icy black mountains to depict the frozen Narnia.

The creepiness continues apace with the White Witch (Laura Elphinstone), her writhing attack dog Maugrim (Omari Bernard) and assorted ghouls. However, there’s comedy aplenty, too, in this festive family treat where we are never left in any doubt that good will triumph over evil.

Until February 2, 2020
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