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24 September 2014

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Engaging fairytale is sure to enchant all

Scene from the RSC's The Lion The Witch and The Warwdrobe
The White Witch ensnares Edmund with the sticky treat Turkish delight
A production of old-fashioned majesty and charm - that's the verdict on the RSC's Christmas show, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.

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The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe at the RST, reviewd by site user Liz Melia

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe became a magnificent visual spectacle in the hands of the RSC and though there were flaws, none were enough to mar the excellence of the production.

 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe
Patrice Naiambana as Aslan the lion
Though this is the third production of CS Lewis' tale to be staged in Stratford in recent years, it should still be a guaranteed success as it will enthrall the young - and young at heart - time and time again.

The audience was allowed to escape - via a wardrobe - with four young siblings, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy, from life as evacuees to Narnia, a land enchanted by the White Witch to make it always winter but never Christmas.

quote start
Patrice Naiambana's movements and sounds as noble lion Aslan and the work of Mr and Mrs Beaver bring the animals to life and it is easy to see how children could forget this wasn't real.
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Liz Melia
There wasn't too much dialogue to distract from the essentially visual production, which made it particularly accessible to younger members of the audience - something often lacking in this type of production.

The extravagant set and spotlights made for a real fairytale experience. The costumes were fabulous, from the glamorous White Witch to the surreal creatures, and the continuous action made it impossible to look away from the stage.

Effects and staging were also astounding - as even though they were mainly low-tech, the falling snow, Lucy and Susan's ride on Aslan's back and the journey through the wardrobe they really transported you into the action.

The cast, as an ensemble, was strong and it's difficult to spotlight those who really stood out although Joanne Pearce was outstanding as the Cruella DeVil-like White Witch.

 Mr and Mrs Beaver
Mr and Mrs Beaver
The ham-evil of the witch was ever-so-slightly camp and diluted what could have been terrifying scenes, particularly those with the leather-clad wolves, for smaller children.

Ingenius tricks used in make-up and wardrobe transform the cast into forest and jungle creatures - the witch's reindeer, the rat, eagle and centaurs looked fantastic - but it was strength of performance that made the animals.

Patrice Naiambana's movements and sounds as noble lion Aslan and the work of Mr and Mrs Beaver bring the animals to life and it is easy to see how children could forget this wasn't real.

 The White Witch and Edmund
The White Witch and Edmund
Some of the solo singing was not that strong - though when the cast gathered together it lit up the stage. Some of the acting from the four young evacuees was a tad tiresome as well at times (some stage-school shouting) but not often.

To keep young children (and restless adults) enthralled in a performance for more than two hours was no mean feat - and I'm sure the children and adults gained equal pleasure from the production.

It was also almost possible to forget this is an allegorical take on Christianty and become instead embroiled in an epic fairy tale of the old-fashioned, non-political persuasion.

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