Michael Fentiman has taken a story so well known and beloved and transformed it into magic (literally!) for the West End. 

Credit: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg

It is so refreshing to see a big West End show refuse to take itself too seriously. The quick wit of many of the actors, Shaka Kalokoh in particular as Edmund, added a dash of levity to the proceedings and had the audience chuckling away throughout. 

The puppetry used takes a slightly different form what has been seen previously with the character of Aslan being played by both puppet and man simultaneously. Chris Jared plays Aslan the man and Oliver Grant, Sean Lopeman, and Shaun McCourt are the puppeteers behind the lion himself. At points through the show characters interact with both Jared and the puppet giving the sense of the two being one. It is a fantastic choice to have it this way as it allows for Aslan to interact the rest of the cast much more directly but still has the stage presence we expect from the titular lion. 

Credit: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg

Another thing that sets this show apart is the cast members playing instruments on stage – and singing at the same time! Christina Tedders as Mrs Beaver is particularly mesmerising on the violin. The score is enjoyable and the addition of live music on stage is lovely, but there was no tune stuck in my head as I left the theatre. Often the score felt secondary to the play; it didn’t really progress the story in any great way but was still good fun. 

Credit: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg

I really enjoyed the movement choreography by Shannelle Fergus, Jevan Howard-Jones, and Tash Holway, which was used very creatively, from the characters forming a train to one cast member (Micha Richardson) impersonating a robin. Emmanuel Ogunjinmi as Maugrim the wolf is equally impressive and thrilling. The set design by Tom Paris is beautiful and very cleverly done, transforming the space with just a few props. Its simplicity, however, does mean that Lucy’s first trip to Narnia wasn’t as impressive as I had hoped it would be. 

Credit: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg

The story stays wonderfully true to the original book and does a fantastic job of capturing the magical experience of the first reading of C.S. Lewis’ classic. The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe would be a wonderful choice for a festive show to catch as the Christmas season creeps upon us.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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