As a child unfamiliar with the septology of CS Lewis novels, The chronicles of Narnia Immerse yourself in a fantasy world of magic, mythical creatures and talking animals in a series that has long been considered a classic in children’s literature. With over 100 million copies sold around the world, it’s as enduring today as it was when it was first published in the 1950’s.
The first book in the series The lion, the witch and the wardrobe is currently touring, delighting audiences young and old when it rolls into Bristol’s Hippodrome Theater this week, bringing a taste of Narnia to the West Country.
For those of you who don’t know, this is the story of the Pevensie clan, four children, two boys and two girls, who are evacuated from London at the outbreak of World War II and relocated to the home of Professor Digory Kirke. Here they discover a mysterious wardrobe that leads the children to Narnia.
Narnia is a magical land controlled by the evil White Witch who has ruled for over a hundred years. In Narnia it is always winter, there is no Christmas and the White Witch rules everything.
Little do they know the show has begun when a lone soldier takes the stage and begins softly playing a stand-up piano, but soon the tempo begins to pick up as Dame Vera Lynn’s wartime classic, We’ll meet Again is played and forms the backdrop for the children’s trip to the country.
This is where the stage art begins, which lasts throughout the evening. The stage becomes a heaving mass of bodies, all expertly choreographed, with the lighting enhancing the foreboding atmosphere of war that pervades the scene. The ensemble clearly knows all of their roles and the apparent chaos only adds to the visual spectacle.
Once Lucy stumbles across Narnia, the production switches back and forth between fantasy and real life and the action really begins. From here we are introduced to characters such as Mr Tumnus (Jez Unwin), Mr & Mrs Beaver (Sam Buttery & Christina Tedders), Aslan the Lion (Chris Jared) and of course the White Witch (Samantha Womack), complemented by the many puppets that do appear continuously.
The story moves at a fair pace, there’s a lot to cover, and many of the cast play multiple roles. The set design, designed by Rae Smith, also plays a role as the entire stage is used to the full, some of the swing scenes are truly mesmerizing and the lighting adds spectacularly to the mood and atmosphere of the production.
This is a show for kids and it was great to see so many of them in the audience spellbound as the plot unfolded. If you want to introduce your grandchildren to the wonders of theater, then this is one show that will surely help you do it.
Special credit goes to director Michael Fentiman, who describes himself as “memented by wonder” when he first saw the television production of the story in 1988, and one feels spellbound after watching this show.
A great night, you should see it while you can. The show runs at the Bristol Hippodrome until May 7th. For tickets Click here.
Welcome to Narnia – Ripe Times
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