The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe By C.S. Lewis

Dates and Venue 13 November - 2 January 2009, Weds - Sat @ 8.00 p.m, Sat matinees @ 2:00 p.m| Pacific Theatre

Reviewer Olivia Bevan

The unassuming, community-based Pacific Theatre is a wonderfully intimate venue where every seat is a good seat, and a comfortable one at that. Their shows are as professional as their actors, and for 25 years they have been mesmerizing audiences with performances such as Driving Miss Daisy, The Elephant Man and Passion.

Their latest production, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, is a beautiful recreation of this magical children’s tale in which four youngsters discover an ethereal world beyond the doors of the wardrobe in their Uncle’s spare room.

As we settled in our theatre seats waiting for the performance to begin, the lights started to dim until an inky blackness smothered and silenced the atmosphere. It was as if we were actually inside the wardrobe stepping towards our own Narnia adventure; making our way beyond the fur coats, beyond where the back of the wardrobe should have been, feeling our way in the darkness, trying to reason with our senses.

As the stage illuminates you find yourselves with two of the children, Peter and Lucy. One Christmas, years later, they have returned to their Uncle’s house where they meet up en route to their Christmas vacation. As they enter the spare room where all their adventures began, they see the wardrobe once more standing as it always did, alone at the far side of the room.

Their childhood may have passed but their vivid memories of times when they were once King and Queen of a beautiful land called Narnia are very much alive. As they start to retell their tales and adventures they are drawn back once more in to this magical world; one that was once ruled by a cruel White Witch, whose evil spell cursed the land so that it was always winter but, unfairly, never Christmas.

With enchanting and emotional reenactment, Peter and Lucy re-live the entire journey from the moment they discovered the secret that lay beyond the doors of the wardrobe, to the time their bravery was called upon in battle against the White Witch. As an audience member, you too are drawn in to their experiences, unable to take your gaze away from the mesmerizing performances of Kyle Rideout and Donna Lea Ford.s these two remarkable actors recount their adventures, they take on every role in the story from beavers to fawns, lions and family members with the believable enthusiasm and imagination told through the eyes and actions of children.

With flight of imagination you are transported from great forests to Witch’s castles and from stone stables to battle fields; until finally the adventure is over and you are back in the spare room wondering whether you ever really left. And just like Peter and Lucy, you look at your watch. Did we really re-live all of that in such a short time? That’s the magic of Narnia…and the magic of the Pacific Theatre.

© 2009 Olivia Bevan