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Review: THE LION, THE WITCH & THE WARDROBE, King's Theatre, Edinburgh

The CS Lewis classic comes to Edinburgh

Review: THE LION, THE WITCH & THE WARDROBE, King's Theatre, Edinburgh

Review: THE LION, THE WITCH & THE WARDROBE, King's Theatre, Edinburgh While at times in Scotland it feels like it's "always winter and never Christmas", theatregoers can currently enjoy the CS Lewis classic The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe at the King's Theatre in Edinburgh.

The collaboration between Elliot & Harper Productions and Catherine Schreiber first opened at The Leeds Playhouse and is currently embarking on a UK tour, based on a production by Sally Cookson, and directed by Michael Fentimen. We follow the four Pevensey children from war-torn London as evacuees as they discover the magical realm of Narnia and their role in a final battle between Narnia's good and evil inhabitants.

Tom Paris' costume designs, based on original designs by Rae Smith, ground the characters at the top of the show in the 1940s, while the creatures of Narnia are decked in delightfully inventive pieces - the snowshoes worn by Mr and Mrs Beaver are inspired!

It is so lovely to see a non-white set of Pevensey siblings: Shaka Kalokoh is suitably conflicted as Edmund Pevensey and Karise Yansen is bright-eyed and awe-filled as Lucy. Jez Unwin is simply charming as Mr Tumnus, and the young audience members are particularly taken by Johnson Willis' Professor Kirk; Chris Jared plays Aslan with sincere warmth, and Samantha Womack is chilling as the White Witch.

Benji Bower and Barnaby Race's score has an earthly folky feel, brilliantly delivered by the actor-musician ensemble. The opening with the nostalgic "We'll Meet Again" gives a nod to war-time Britain. While the characters don't break into narrative-driven song until they reach Narnia, a nice "other-worldly" touch, it feels like there is a long gap between the opening and Mr Tumnus' tale of the history of Narnia - I wondered if an "I want" song for Lucy as she emerges into Narnia for the first time had ever been considered?

The stage effects are certainly magical, as you would expect from some of the creative team behind Harry Potter and the Cursed Child­­. The White Witch flies above us menacingly (reminiscent of a certain green-hued show), while the use of circular lit "portals" add to the sense of fantastical parallel worlds. Little illusions here and there add to the wonder of the world of Narnia.

The script makes no attempts to dial down the well-known Christian undertones within Lewis' story, giving space to dwell on sincere moments as needed while the pace really picks up in the final battle, without being overly rushed.

In a particularly nice touch during the standoff between Aslan and the White Witch at the Stone Table, Aslan merely stands there as a man, without the majestic lion puppet (designed by Max Humphries) standing alongside, highlighting his vulnerability and humbling of himself in that moment.

Whether you're coming to this show well-versed in The Chronicles of Narnia and its various adaptions or visiting Narnia for the first time, this is a creative reimagining of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe at the King's Theatre until 12 February

Photo credit: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg

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