'Magical, mystical and spectacular' – Our review of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe at Birmingham Rep
As soon as we got home my daughter rushed to check if she could enter the magical world of Narnia from the wardrobe.
Fortunately, she's still on this side of the other worldly portal, but she's not stopped talking about this breath-taking show that's running at Birmingham's The Rep across the festive season until Sunday, January 28.
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is nothing short of a spectacle for the senses - spell-binding music, a dark and mystical stage production and the use of perfect puppetry.
Direct from the West End, this modern adaptation begins as a wartime drama before Lucy takes her first steps through the wardrobe into the mystical faraway land of Narnia.
My daughter gasped as we joined Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter as they waved goodbye to wartime Britain and became immersed in the deep magic of this other world.
The costumes, staging, acting and singing from Mr Tumnis, the talking Faun, Aslan the brave lion to the cruel White Witch and everyone in between are enchanting and spectacular.
A smoky haze covers the dark stage, dramatic musical beats and sounds make the perfect backdrop to every scene and clever staging, puppetry and regular use of characters flying high into the air, make this truly breathtaking.
It's this combination of staging, music and costume that makes this bewitching story come to life with a dark and mystical twist. The whole show is orchestrated perfectly, even down to Aslan being represented as both puppet and man with his long coat and messy mane of hair.
Real stand out moments are the first appearances of the The White Witch and Aslan the Lion. "Beware the Witch" booms across the theatre and her presence captivates the entire room. She's really quite scary with her faux fur coat, long train and her evil entourage as she moves around Narnia to enchanting and ominous music.
Another stand out character is the head of the secret police for the White Witch, Maugrim, who is a truly terrifying, athletic mix of wolf and robot that carries out the witch's bidding during her long rule in Narnia.
Iconic pieces of stage such as the well-known lamppost, obviously the wardrobe and the train that takes the evacuee children to Scotland all bring delight to those who read these books regularly when they were younger (like me).
A giant clock face takes up the stage to show the illusion between our time and that of Narnia's world, for the children can feel to be in Narnia for hours but in reality it can be mere minutes.
This production is not for the faint-hearted as fighting, weapons, loud noises and strobe lighting feature throughout - but there will be relaxed performances on offer.
At its heart this is a children's story but the issues including the very real wartime anxiety of the children, the battle between good and evil and the grit of war, which all run as deeper themes that are captured in the 1950s novel.
A poignant scene between the eldest child Peter and Aslan focuses on his fears for his brave father fighting in the war as Peter realises he does so for love of his family.
It's not all dark and mystical though - Santa Claus soon arrives with a jolly song and the precious gifts the children need to take on the war against the White Witch.
Comical moments bring light relief and these can be found with Mr and Mrs Beaver regularly throughout.
This is just a must-see family treat. It is magical, mystical and spectacular and we would love to see it again.
Runs until January 28. Visit birmingham-rep.co.uk/whats-on/the-lion-the-witch-and-the-wardrobe/ for more.
The age suggestion is 6 plus with a two hour and 30 minute running time.