Theatre is often at its best when it is pushing the boundaries of what it can achieve and exploring new and innovative avenues of entertainment. Intersplicing live performance with film and puppetry is an effective practice which has previously proven to be popular with audiences and threesixty theatre have taken that to new levels with the help of their unique outdoor venue, which recently returned to Kensington Gardens.
The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe is a classic fantasy story from novelist C. S. Lewis; I would imagine nearly every child grew up reading the Chronicles of Narnia books or watching the film versions – I know I certainly did. The adventures of Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy are ingrained in my childhood memories, as they entered the magical land of Narnia through a seemingly innocuous wardrobe to do battle against the tyrannical White Witch and fulfil a prophecy, with the help of an assortment of mythical beings and, of course, a wise and magical lion. It’s a timeless tale that appeals to both children and adults alike and now, threesixty have brought C. S. Lewis’ world to life with their new production of The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe.
The threesixty theatre is a sight to behold. The state of the art theatre tent stands at over 100 feet high and seats 1480 people per performance, but perhaps most importantly, it was designed with the notoriety of our unpredictable English summers in mind, so whatever the weather, come rain or shine, the audience’s theatre experience will always be a comfortable and enjoyable one. The circular space provides audiences with an unrestricted view of the centralised stage, but also allows the company to utilise the ground-breaking surround video projections that were such a hit with audiences in their previous production, Peter Pan, which went on to tour America and the Far East after its sell-out premiere in London.
Now they’ve returned with a follow-up production of The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, which opened there on 8th May 2012 and runs till 23rd July 2012. Award winning director Rupert Goold has adapted C. S. Lewis’ story for the stage with co-direction by Michael Fentiman, and original composition from Adam Cork. Sally Dexter stars as the White Witch, alongside Brian Protheroe (The Professor), Forbes Masson (Mr Tumnus) and Paul Barnhill and Sophie Louise Dann (Mr and Mrs Beaver), with young actors Philip Labey, Carly Bawden, Jonny Weldon and Rebecca Benson taking on the roles of Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy. Three actors (puppet captain Jane Leaney, Christian From and Will Lucas) bring Aslan to life in spectacular fashion through the art of puppetry in an impressive creation by Tom Scott and the set, costume and puppet design team.
This visually stunning production promises to be a fantastic family experience, offering audiences one of the best-loved stories of all time with the accompaniment of innovative performance and threesixty’s trademark stop motion images which are projected 360 degrees onto the inside walls of the canvas tent. If you’ve enjoyed C. S. Lewis’ books and the subsequent film versions, then this live stage production is the perfect next step this summer.
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Monday 14th May 2012