We take a look at what critics have had to say about this stage adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ beloved children’s story.
The Guardian: “But there is the most riveting spectacle alongside this darkness. Michael Fentiman’s touring production fits this enormous West End stage like a glove. Tom Paris’ design is a wonder, with a giant clock face as a backdrop to mark the disparity between real-world time and Narnia’s parallel universe. The cut out circle at its centre visually builds on the idea of a portal to another world and is used to heighten the drama as figures appear in it in moments of extremis.”
Evening Standard: ★★ “This wintry story, with its unsubtle Christian subtext and a guest appearance by Santa Claus, feels wildly out of place in midsummer, a week after the UK almost caught fire. And the low-key charms of Fentiman’s production, with its folksy songs and winsome steampunk animals, evaporate in a 1,024-seat West End theatre.”
London Theatre1: ★★★★ “It does take a while for the storyline to get going – there’s some unnecessary faffing about in the ‘real’ world with kippers, amongst other things, before the audience’s patience is finally rewarded. It’s too much of a spoiler to provide further particulars, but some impressive stage illusions help to maintain interest in a show that, while imperfect, delights its target audience.”
The Stage: ★★★★ “An impressive company of actor-musicians and puppeteers curate a vibrant world wholly suitable for CS Lewis’ ode to the power of imagination.”
The Reviews Hub: ★★★★ “The first act builds the tension, creative input and cast chemistry dynamics that are required for such a familiar narrative. The second act in comparison, feels slightly overlooked, with some scenes being sped through to fit them in, losing some of the initial pace and slow-build structure that helped contribute to many of the entrancing moments that drew the audience in initially. Bringing some larger scale additions to the second act would elevate the production and engulf the audience even further into the fictional landscape.”
Broadway World: ★★★★ “Director Michael Fentiman’s take on the original Sally Cookson production is an awe-inspiring sight. Visual details both small and large are beautifully designed to bring the story of the Pevensie siblings, their adventures with Aslan and their battle against the Wicked Witch to life.”
London Theatre.co.uk: ★★★★★ “Samantha Womack shines as Jadis, the sneering, frosty White Witch who seeks absolute control over her nation. Womack balances an equal amount of taunting and dominance with an alluring mystery; her Act Two disappearing trick is worthy of the Magic Circle. When the majestic Aslan parades around the stage in the second act, the crowd appropriately roars into action. Chris Jared matches the grand puppeteering as the stately Aslan human actor. Actor-musicians complement the whimsical forest feel, notably Julian Hoult and Christina Tedders as the charming Mr and Mrs Beaver, and Jez Unwin as a spritely Mr. Tumnus.”
The Upcoming: ★★★★ “The show is technically flawless, with aerial feats, special effects and scene changes choreographed to perfection. Visually, it’s a pleasure to watch from beginning to end. The musicians also contribute wonderfully to creating the right mood, and, although the songs themselves are not so impressive, the singing and the instrumentals are excellent.”
The Times: ★★★ “That awful moment when Aslan the lion is put to death is still chilling, yet some of the magic has seeped out of a production, originally devised by Sally Cookson, that started life at Leeds Playhouse five years ago. Now reconfigured and taken on the road by the director Michael Fentiman — who made such a magnificent job of bringing the Gallic film fantasy, Amélie, to the stage — CS Lewis’ tale of children caught amid warring spiritual forces looks and feels rather more functional.”
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe will play at the Gillian Lynne Theatre until 8 January 2023.