Theatre review: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe has plenty of magic

Long before Harry, Hermione and Ronald burst onto the scene, there was another group of kids that captured the imaginations of young booklovers around the world.  And while it is impossible to say who will ultimately win the literary hearts and minds of future generations, my money will always be on C.S. Lewis and his story of Narnia.

In a remount of its seasonal favourite The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Pacific Theatre once again proves that great story-telling is the true life-blood of any great theatrical production.  But rather than a simple retelling of the story, in this version Lucy (Kaitlin Williams) and Peter (Mack Gordon) return years later to the spare room of their uncle’s home where its wardrobe once again becomes the conduit to Narnia and their childhood adventure.  Reliving the memories of that adventure, the siblings move between past and present as they find themselves playing the multitude of characters in the story.

And playing is the key here, as Williams and Gordon simply allow their inner-child take over.  Any self-consciousness is left at the stage door as the two capture the child-like pretense of the world they discover beyond the wardrobe.  While accents may come and go, what doesn’t disappear is the ease in which the duo move between the various characters they must play; Williams is just as full of wonderment as Lucy as she is malevolent as the White Witch and Gordon gives as much to his hilarious characterization of Mr Beaver as he does to playing the petulant Edmund.

Kaitlin Williams and Mack Gordon in Pacific Theatre's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.  Photo by Ron Reed.
Kaitlin Williams and Mack Gordon in Pacific Theatre’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.  Photo by Ron Reed.

Helping the two actors in no small measure, director Kerri Norris takes a cue from the 2009 version in a meticulous attention to details with set, lighting, costume and sound designs working in perfect harmony with each other and the action on the stage.  Lighting designer Lauchlin Johnston recreates the numerous locales with deceptive ease and Naomi Sider once again uses the furs inside the wardrobe and other small items to transform the actors before our eyes (I am still in awe of the red-lined coat).  Sound designers Corina Akeson and Jeff Tymoshuk return from the 2009 production, once again providing music and effects that were both dazzling and perfectly executed.

Whether you’ve seen this production before or not, go, find out for yourself the wonders that await you beyond the wardrobe for there is plenty of magic still to be found in Pacific Theatre’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

4 1/2 of 5 Stars The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Adapted from the novel by C.S. Lewis.  A Pacific Theatre presentation.  On stage at Pacific Theatre (Vancouver) through December 15, 2012 and at The Evergreen Cultural Centre December (Coquitlam) 18 – 22, 2012.  With touring dates in April & May 2013 on the North Shore.  Visit http://pacifictheatre.org for tickets and information.

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