The show itself [popular with youth groups over the years – playing here in 2001 and 2010] remains an unsatisfactory collision between C S Lewis and Julian Slade. “But what does it all mean ?” asks Susan. More than just twee fantasy, perhaps. At least Ray Jeffery’s production minimises the cuteness, with some excellent period performances from the Pevensies [on opening night I saw the Summer Cast]: Elliot Elder as a capable Peter, Charlotte Broad excellent as the older, wiser Susan, Emily Ford as the innocent, life-affirming Lucy, and an outstanding performance from Matthew Hedges as Edmund – a touching blend of vulnerability and bravado, with a confident stage presence, and a superb way with his big number in Act Two.
Many other notable characters – the Beavers of Jayden Booroff and Rebecca Clarke, Edward Bonner’s Father Christmas, Jessica Higgins’ perky Robin and Tom Tull’s booming Aslan, though he is not helped by his comedy costume. Another young performer to catch the 50s feel of the original particularly well is Samuel Wolstenholme as the fey faun Mr Tumnus, dispensing tea and sugar-topped cake in his cosy cave.
The stage levels, and the auditorium, are imaginatively used – Winter into Spring, the Waiting and Wondering confrontation, spooky whispering, choruses from the back, the imposing White Witch [Eve French] and her retinue ranged down the aisle. Within the limitations, some good movement, too, like the battle scene, from a huge, hardworking chorus – I liked the wartime line-up behind the Teasing Song – which includes all those principals who are performing on alternate dates.
Review by Michael Gray’s Arts Blog