A big cat has taken up residency on Broad Street for Christmas and the New Year, and if the spine-chilling sound effects are anything to go by, he’s going to be a roaring success.
Adrian Mitchell’s dramatisation, first produced for the RSC ten years ago and successfully presented in this co-production at West Yorkshire Playhouse in 2004 and 2007, is faithful to the 1950 book by C S Lewis
It’s a delight to see Aslan (Louis Decosta Johnson) springing one of the evening’s surprises by leaping around the audience. and the evacuated Pevensie children, Peter (Joseph Pitcher), Susan (Bethan Walker), Edmund (Ben Stott) and Lucy (Amy Brown) also go on walkabout too to help the show to break out from what is, at times, a fairly sparse set.
Doubling up as hills, two revolving staircases are initially impressive. But they eventually become a touch overused, even though an irrational fear that someone will fall off a step keeps you on the edge of your seat.
Aslan’s coat appears to be a strange, mauve-like colour at first, in contrast to the whitish lion on the programme cover and our perception of golden lions in the jungle. But his bouncy tail has such a life of its own I went home wishing I had one myself.
Michael Taibi’s topless fawn Tumnus is equally terrific, particularly when running across the stage, while Owen Young’s chief of police, Maugrim, could sniff for England at every World Cup.
In total contrast to Tilda Swinton’s ultra-pale witch in the film, black actress Moyo Omoniyi is equally striking as the White Witch, though her outfit appears to be more of a 21st century wedding dress than something designed to chill your bones.
Neil Salvage cleverly doubles up as Professor Kirk and Father Christmas, who should not be missed arriving at the start of part two.
Complete with a few scary bits, loud explosions and a violinist (Juliet Leighton-Jones) who doesn’t stop smiling in the orchestra pit throughout what is a great family show, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is an ideal end-of-year treat for all literary-minded children aged eight and upwards.
* Running time: Two hours, 30 minutes. Until January 17.