The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe
Adapted from C.S Lewis’s novel by Ron Reed

When & Where November 23 – December 23, 2023; Wed - Thurs 7:30pm, 8pm Fri / Sat with 2pm Sat and Sunday matinees | Pacific Theatre, 1440 West 12th Avenue

Director Sarah Rodgers Set Design Lauchlin Johnston Lighting Design John Webber Sound Design Julie Casselman Costume Design Sheila White Props Dianna Lewis Stage Manager Victoria Snashall

Interiewer Eve Newstead

It is no mean feat adapting a sprawling fantasy world for theatre. Double the challenge when using two actors on a small traverse stage. Ron Reed’s adaptation of C.S Lewis’s favourite nostalgic novel The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe shows us how its done; driven by the power of imagination.

Back by popular demand to Pacific Theatre after huge success in 2018, this festive retelling follows Lucy and Peter as adults on return to Narnia. The narrative structure is through their storytelling, which builds from verbal anecdote swapping to a full reenactment. We meet Tumnus again, the White Witch and Aslan, along with all the other fantastical creatures of Lewis’s world. Edmund and Susan are recreated too; for, it must be noted, huge comedic effect.

Rebecca deBoer and John Voth reprise the multitude of roles. The accents are uneven, but the physicality and essence of each character is on point, with snap sharp shifts between each. Edmund’s petulance and Lucy’s tweeness are lovingly ribbed. The film’s loveable beavers voiced by Ray Winstone and Dawn Frenchare brought back with full vigour and hilarity. The quintessential outfits for each help visualize the roles. It is only Aslan’s that is disappointing when it finally comes, leaving the lion’s sublime power somewhat diluted.

Sarah Rodgers’s direction and Lauchlin Johnston’s set design area triumphant collaboration. The moveable set, lighting and iconic props are our keys to their world. The seeming simplicity in scene changes is wonderfully effective. Rodgers knows just the tricks to ignite our envisioning of the epic scenes. It is this imagination collaboration, between the artists and the audience, which creates the show’s wonder.

Overall, Reed’s structure works best when it derives comedy from or offers insight into the familiar tale. The comments from the adult Pevensies sometimes fall short and serve as filler more than anything. Apart from this it is a clever way of taking us all back to Narnia. The auditorium was full of grown-ups, and although it will undoubtedly be enjoyed by kids too, this Christmas we are reminded that we are never too old to imagine.

© 2023 Eve Newstead