CS Lewis’s classic children’s story is imaginatively recreated in this stage version by Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company and West Yorkshire Playhouse.
They have taken Adrian Mitchell’s show, first seen at Stratford-upon-Avon ten years ago, and given it a fresh lease of life. With a stage set by Ruari Murchison, it certainly looks impressive, as the four youngsters step through the wardrobe into the magical world of Narnia.
Spiralling staircases feature within the house and in Narnia while giant baubles are used to project images which form an integral part of the story.
But even with the best will in the world the production is a slow starter. There is a sense that a little prodding would speed it all up. A series of lacklustre songs do not help matters.
However once the story starts moving it is hard not to be carried away by its epic battle of good versus evil. Moyo Omoniyi fills the stage as the evil White Witch, balancing menace with a touch of craziness while Louis Decosta Johnson is gentle and masterful as the good lion Aslan.
Directed by Ian Brown, there are some nice touches with Aslan coming out of the show into the audience connecting us with the drama.
The four children – Peter (Joseph Pitcher), Susan (Bethan Walker), Edmund (Ben Stott) and Lucy (Amy Brown) are all played with youthful enthusiasm.
And they are supported by a cast who shape change from 1940s’ tourists into mythical beasts and courtiers.
Ultimately this show’s greatest strength is the story, which has captured the imagination of generations. I wonder how many in the audience had a look in their own wardrobe when they returned home – just in case.
The excitement continues until January 17.