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By JON DEAN
Friday, August 3, 2012
Despite being written more than 60 years ago, CS Lewis’s classic Chronicles of Narnia just doesn’t get old. The book has spanned the generations, the big budget film in 2005 was a huge success, and this summer the tale has been re-imagined in a giant wigwam in Kensington Gardens.
The 360 theatre, where the action takes place, is part of a charming collection of tents, including a bar and outdoor seating in the south west part of the park.
The venue itself is impressive - like a big circus tent, but with a cinema strip running all the way round the sides allowing for some amazing projections which were the shows’ signature.
On the circular stage the four young heroes, who were all played excellently, got into thing pretty quickly and the action moved to Narnia within the first few minutes.
The transitions from one world to another are handled very well, and the icy landscape of Narnia was very atmospheric, with snow falling and angular trees wandering around.
And quite a few moment involving the white witch bordered on the frightening, particularly the fiery sacrifice of Aslan towards the end of the play.
The great lion himself looked fantastic - the three operators had the king of Narnia wandering round the stage in realistic fashion, and his throaty roar fair shook the whole amphitheatre.
One of the highlights of the show was Lucy and Susan riding on Aslan’s back while the snowy landscape whirled past on the giant cinema screens.
It may seem a bit odd to have a Christmas show on the middle of the (so-called) summer, but it makes sense in the context of the story - it is August in the real world before the kids go through the wardrobe.
This impressive and enjoyable romp should expose a new generation of kids to the magic of Narnia, while older members of the audience can wallow in pleasant nostalgia.
- The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe is at the 360 Theatre, in Kensington Gardens, until September 9. Shows 7.30pm Thursday to Saturday, 2.30pm Wednesday and Thursday, 3pm Saturday, 12noon and 3.30pm Sunday.
Tickets start from £35, visit www.lionwitchtheshow.com