Review by Judith Robinson
The Stratford Festival’s production of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a dazzling presentation of magic and illusion. The story is based on C.S. Lewis’ 1950 novel – presented here in Adrian Mitchell’s 1998 stage adaptation – of the tale of four British children who wander through a wardrobe and enter the magical kingdom of Narnia, which has long enchanted children everywhere.
This show’s real star is projection designer, Brad Peterson, whose fast moving backdrops create a sense of wonder and magic. Peterson’s skies, forests and mountains provide the audience members with a visceral encounter and expedite seamless transitions between scenes. Photo by David Hou
Lighting designer, Kevin Fraser, adds to the encounter, creating lovely shadows and subdued tones. While the landscape may be lovely, the story Lewis created is equally powerful. But here, the forceful plot is underscored by the sheer magic, and the central allegory of the story almost gets lost.
The best acting was by Tom McCamus who portrays both the playful Professor Kirk, who hosts the children who have come to stay with him to escape the bombing of London in WWII, and Aslan the heroic lion, who gives up his life to rescue young Edmund, played by André Morin, who has betrayed him. Aslan is presented as a gigantic two-person puppet – McManus in the front. The puppetry, throughout the show, was skillfully-handled and well-integrated with the rest of the characters by movement and puppetry director, Alexis Milligan.
Mike Nadajewski provided comic relief as the fawn, Mr. Tumnus. His singing and dancing with youngest sibling Lucy, played by Sara Farb, was spirited and soulful. Brad Hodder’s howl, as the wolf Maugrim, head of the secret police, filled the auditorium with an eerie foreboding.
Watching this show was like going on a train ride through the Rockies in an open caboose haunted by ravenous wildlife. The show is an amazing spectacle—sure to entertain any child.
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is playing at the Avon Theatre until Oct. 22nd.