The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe

© Simon Annand
Sally Dexter and Jonny Weldon

CS Lewis's beloved tale of four wartime evacuees who – thanks to a magic wardrobe – find themselves in a land of fauns and talking animals, has been turned into an IMAX-style theatrical rollercoaster ride, staged in a huge, purpose-built tent with a hi-tech domed interior akin to something from a sci-fi film.

The second, chronologically, of CS Lewis's tales of Narnia is one of the best children's books of all time. But its mix of the touchingly personal and the sweepingly epic makes it hard to adapt. Even the much-loved '80s BBC TV version looks ever-creakier with age.

Rupert Goold's adaptation touches briefly on the children's abandonment issues and the parallels between war-torn Britain and the icy tyranny of the White Witch's reign. But it is soon engulfed by a tide of high-wire acrobatics, dancing, animated projections and fairly forgettable songs.

Some said 'Peter Pan', Threesixty's previous show in Kensington Gardens, put spectacle above story. This is a problem here, too. Striking design and some stunning special effects can't compensate for what is often a confusing tour of Lewis's carefully crafted world. If you don't know the plot, you might struggle to keep up.

The younger actors are suitably plucky as the Pevensie children; Forbes Masson is a snivelling yet ultimately noble Mr Tumnus; and Paul Barnhill and Sophie-Louise Dann are fun as a squabbling Mr and Mrs Beaver. But the star of the show is the distinctly God-like Aslan.

When Aslan turns up, so does the magic. Max Humphries' 'War Horse'-style puppet (voiced with gravelly gravitas by David Suchet) is an astonishing creation, wildly beautiful and textured like bark. When this lion-shaped embodiment of the forest bounds into life, you forget there are people operating him.

His sacrifice by Sally Dexter's mad-eyed White Witch on the stone table – lit blood-red and choreographed like a scene from 'Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom' – will have adults as well as children on the edge of their seats. Kids will be enthralled by the show's energy and flair. But as an even bigger kid who used to spend hours in his parents' wardrobe waiting for Narnia to appear behind the skirts and trousers, I missed the book's joyful sense of anticipation, wonder and hope.

Average User Rating

3.5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:10
  • 4 star:2
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:6
LiveReviews|19
1 person listening
Nounnytus

PzubDUVX zjwfBHWhp jovxormqpi UNOpMcmwd gcyfbr ZaoJXZIHmpo XrmsCAXV zmynLDSfi RlagDGXR xzbcNFDox

Famil theatre lovers

Awful dirgy folk music score, interesting staging and adequate performances though nothing stand out. I felt like screaming every time the interminably dull songs started and wishing they'd finish. Love theatre, seriously disliked this production

RHCP LOVER

Right... @ Richard Campbell - Jun 1 2012 What is actually wrong with you? Your complaining over the temperature? Trying to create an image of a negative experience when really it was ytour own stupidity and ignorance that made it negative. You dont come here to rant about 'temperatures' you come to talk about the SHOW you ignorant twat.

Lorna

Fantastic show! The costumes were amazing. My 8 & 10 year old loved it. We paid a little extra for better seats but having been there and seen the 360 theatre, there is not a bad seat in house. Getting there, do not get off at Lancaster Gate station ( as we did) because it is a long way ( with children and raining) walking across the park to get to the theatre. We barley made the show and were miserable as we were wet. Also once the show starts, if you leave you will have to wait to get back in, possibly 20 mins, as the actors use the exits to get on and off the stage, so you have to wait for a chance for the usher to bring you back to your seat. Overall though we had a great night and can highly recommend seeing this wonderful performance.

Helen

Went with a friend and our girls aged 11 and 13. All of us really loved the multimedia effects, part theatre, circus, musical and of course the fantastic Aslan puppet. A bit slow initially but ultimately an enthralling spectacle, but agree with other comments that it probably helps if you know the story. Would recommend though quite pricey, the £7+ per ticket handling charge on top of the seat price is ridiculous.

Madeleine, London

Stunning. Don't miss it. As a CS Lewis purist who refused to watch the film because the images in my mind from reading this as a child were too precious, I left spellbound and satisfied by this production. My two children (aged 7,10) were blown away.

Richard

10/6/12 Still no response to my complaint email of 28/05/12. see below The views on this show seem very polarized with some reviews appearing rather scripted. The show is good for young children but not for adults and the poor environment and technical problems are serious flaws.

YummyOlympic

I think ‘it’s not the show that should be watched solely with adult eyes and surprised that many critics did go to see it as grumpy adults. From what i could see myself all kids were absolutely ecstatic, happy and wanting more and if they could write up their views, it'll be a joyous review here is my mine http://wp.me/p15u2U-lb Both of my kids loved it, were mesmerised by the costumes, chants and the story and popcorn helped to keep them entertained in the beginning build up bit.

S.jackson

I took 2 of my children age 6 and 14 to see the show last night. They loved it. Both of them were spellbound by the clever and creative production. The 14 year old revelled in the visual Side, the puppetry, the projections. My 6 year old, well, he was just amazed and captivated by it all. Myself, I loved the show too. The cast worked hard and succeeded in creating the magical world of Narnia. I thoroughly recommend seeing this show. A gem in Kensington Gardens..,not one that is kept too secret I hope!

Richard Campbell

I attended the 3.30pm show on Sunday 27th May. It was a nice warm sunny day but the temperature inside the tent was unreasonably high and made it impossible to enjoy the show. It was stifflingly hot and it was difficult to stay awake let alone enjoy the show. To quote their website: "Is it open air? NO! The 360 Theatre is a multi-million pound purpose built state-of-the-art tent and is temperature controlled. WE have played in -20 degrees in Atlanta, USA and +40 in Los Angeles, USA , and a hurricane in Chicago so we are prepared for all weather." Having paid over £100 for tickets I think it reasonable that the temperature is controlled as advertised and yesterday it was no way near 40C in central London. There was technical problem in the first half of the show and my wife went to see if we could get tickets for another date or a refund given it was so hot. She was told she was the only person to complain, as if that made their position reasonable. I asked at the interval to see a manager. Siobhan Lighhtfoot told me she did not know the temperature inside the tent and refused to refund or to issue me with new tickets. I told her she had an obligation to know the temperature inside the tent. She told me to put any comments in writing and basically to get lost. At the end of the show, I went to ask Siobhan Lightfoot the temperature inside the tent. She refused to tell me the temperature inside the tent. I asked why would she not provide me with this information, since all I wanted to do was establish the facts. She refused to tell me how many others had complained or asked for refunds and merely stated " a couple" and walked off. Our reasonable complaints were extremely badly handled, given the show is by no means a sell out it would have been of very little cost for them to given us tickets for another date. I phoned the number on the card given to me by Siobhan today and spoke to Shane. After explaining the situation to him he referred to the "extreme weather conditions" of yesterday. I pointed out to him that the show runs through to 8 Sept and yesterday was in no way extreme and that the tent was not temperature controlled. He said that he did not know the temperature inside the tent but admitted that it would have been recorded. Siobhan had said that they aimed to cool the tent to 20C and he agreed with this. He declined to say whether the temperature was above 20C based on his own experience yesterday and again told me to put any comments in writing to operations@360ents.com. I have done this and await some kind of response and what the temperature was. But basically based on our experience unless you like sauna like conditions I cannot recommend you give this show a wide berth. Richard. I have now submitted my complaint by email on 28/05/12

Julia

A magical experience from start to finish...beautiful outside space, wonderful pavilion unusually decorated serving the usual alcoholic beverages aswell as good coffee, fresh cakes and salted popcorn, not our usual choice but absolutely delicious, made just 30 minutes before. Inside the production feels small and friendly and you are totally immersed in the world of Narnia. The lion, Aslan, is bewitching and incredibly lifelike, seeming to move around effortlessly. Quite simply I have never seen my children (11 and 9) so totally gripped, as were we.

Milena

I thought it was as magical as my first reading of the book. The live acting, singing, music, acrobatics, puppetry, superb costuming and acting made for an unforgettable experience. I and my 7 year old child, loved it.