Updated: Apr 5, 2022
Based on the novel by C S Lewis
Elliot & Harper Productions and Catherine Schreiber, Leeds Playhouse Production
The Lowry, Salford
December 8, 2021- January 15, 2022
Taking centre stage at The Lowry this Christmas is this eagerly-anticipated stage version of the classic CS Lewis children's story.
A staple of TV and film for decades, it's the chance for theatregoers to see the familiar tale of endless winter, fur coats, a lamppost and Turkish Delight told anew on stage.
Directed by Michael Fentiman and based on the original Leeds Playhouse production by Sally Cookson, the show is a comforting and whimsical affair that allows a versatile cast to showcase their singing, dancing, instrument playing, puppeteering and more.
It's a magical mix of folksy songs (by Benji Bower & Barnaby Race), quirky costumes, clever stagecraft and charming performances, that bring a familiar story to life in a new and exciting way.
And yes, it snows on stage. Indeed the bit when Lucy steps through the titular wardrobe and emerges into Narnia is a dazzling moment, the cast transforming themselves and the stage into a winter wonderland.
Leading the production as the four Pevensie children are Ammar Duffus (Peter), Robyn Sinclair (Susan), Shaka Kalokoh (Edmund) and Karise Yansen (Lucy), who bring earnestness, courage and humour to their roles. The audience fully buys into the concept of these adult actors bringing the young siblings to life.
Popular stage and screen actress Samantha Womack takes the role of duplicitous Jadis, the White Witch (as well as a smaller cameo role at the start - showing off a nice Scottish accent). Womack makes a real impact in the role, which allows her to switch from hypnotic and menacing in an instant – as well as a soaring moment that brings Act One to a showstopping close.
The messianic lion, Aslan, is dually portrayed by actor Chris Jared working alongside a large puppet from puppetry chiefs Max Humphries and Tony Olie. It's an effective and dignified way to bring the larger-than-life character to life without having a large talking lion on stage.
Other excellent supporting performances included Jez Unwin's rosy-cheeked, twinkly-eyed Mr Tumnus the faun, Michael Ahomka-Lindsay's sinister wolf Maugrim and Sam Buttery and Christina Tedders' chipper Mr and Mrs Beaver - all tally-ho Blitz spirit and bickering.
One note of caution: the age guidance attached to the show is six-plus, but younger children might find some of the scenes and characters a bit on the scary side (a testament to effective stagecraft).
This is a triumphant piece of family theatre: earnest, exciting, affecting, and festively feelgood in an understated way. Certainly not to be missed for anyone with any affection for the source material.
Now, where's that Turkish Delight?
Information and tickets here