Get swept away into the fantastical world of Narnia as the classic children’s book The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe gets a West End makeover.
C.S Lewis’ fantasy fairytale has seen several incarnations including a 1980s BBC television series and a 2005 Hollywood movie, but it’s the 2022 stage adaptation that truly impresses with its captivating live magic, extraordinary set and diverse casting, including an all-Black Pevensie family – this is a progressive stage show that every child will adore.
It takes just minutes to be transported from your comfy seat in the Gillian Lynne Theatre into the fantastical, magical snow-filled land of Narnia where woodland animals talk, and fairies invite you around for tea.
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is the story of four siblings, the Pevensie family who are evacuated during WW2. The home they’re sent to has a spare room with an ordinary-looking wardrobe, but when you open the door and step inside, it transports you to another world, Narnia, as the children soon discover. The four protagonists Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter convince us with ease to follow them into an imaginative land where anything can happen, and it does!
There are talking puppets, vanishing cast members, mythical creatures, aerial acrobatics and the most dazzling of dresses worn by the White Witch who is played by ex-Eastenders star Samantha Womack. Director Michael Fentiman has left no jewel unturned in the telling of this perfect-summer-holiday musical, bringing together songs, drama and choreography ensuring you get the full West End experience, but the ultimate charm lies in how wonderful it is to see the four children played by a talented all-Black young cast.
The quartet, Lucy (Delainey Hayles), Edmund (Shaka Kalokoh), Peter (Ammar Duffus) and Susan (Robyn Sinclair) share a warm dynamic on stage and even the most cynical of adults will feel inspired by their curiosity and beam at the bizarre situations they find themselves including meeting Santa.
It’s also wonderful to see the show’s musicians play such a critical part of the performance too, they are characters within the scenes and though the songs are unfamiliar they have a catchiness that makes them enjoyable to watch.
But The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is not a sugar-coated fairytale, there is much darkness in this telling of the story including a murder scene, fights and a villainous beast who is the thing of nightmares, so young audience members may need some comforting during these moments.
The show’s main star is Aslan the lion and it’s interesting to see this character played by a human and a puppet at the same time, bouncing off each other in a slightly confusing way, but both are a visual spectacle and fascinating to watch.
For children who love adventure and magic The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is pure joy. To see a 75-year-old story hold the test of time and continue to spark the imagination of all who see it is something to be treasured.
In an age where Harry Potter continues to be the tale of choice for young readers, it’s good to see C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia having a resurgence. If you’re planning to take the children to see a West End show over the summer, this should be it, though as it continues into January it’s also one to book for Christmas; an event the whole family will adore and it will no doubt spark many conversations and memories shared from when the adults watched it on TV with a generation who missed seeing it then.
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is on at the Gillian Lynne Theatre, Covent Garden, London until 8 July 2023.
Book your tickets here.
Words: Momtaz Begum-Hossain