The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – Lowry Theatre

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This was a real treat, a much-needed pick-me-up in what’s been a pretty rotten week all round.   A lot of emphasis was put on the need to keep strong and hold on to hope, and on Lucy as the bringer of light, and I think that’s something we could all do with at the moment.  Actually, just to be pedantic, I think someone rather needs to brush up their Latin, given that “bringer/bearer of light” would be Lucifer rather than Lucy 🙂 , but it was a nice idea!   Interesting interpretation as well: as I understand it, the name Lucy was chosen purely because it was the name of C S Lewis’s goddaughter, but I do like the idea of connecting the character with the name’s literal meaning of “light” (lux).

Emphasis had also been put on the wartime context of the story.  The same thing was done with both the stage adaptation of Bedknobs and Broomsticks which I saw recently and the CBBC adaptation of Malory Towers, so it does seem to be a trend.  When C S Lewis wrote the book, publishers weren’t keen to have too much reference to the war in children’s books, in case it triggered painful memories, but I think it’s quite positive that that’s changing now – although purists will obviously prefer adaptations to stick as closely as possible to the book.  This was a musical, and we started off with a soldier singing “We’ll Meet Again” as the evacuees boarded their train.  And the good animals in Narnia were very much shown as a wartime resistance movement.  Mrs Beaver even told the Pevensies to listen very carefully because she’d say this only once!

Mr Beaver had been turned into a bit of a whingeing comedy figure who seemed to belong in Dad’s Army rather than ‘Allo ‘Allo, or indeed The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and Reepicheep only featured in passing and wasn’t even named, but you can’t do everything when you’re adapting a complex book for a 2 hour stage show.  They’d really done a very good job of it.  The actor and actress playing Edmund and Lucy were years too old, but I suppose you couldn’t really have little ones playing such big roles twice a day for weeks on end.

And it’d been Celtified.  The professor’s house had been relocated to Aberdeenshire.  I can’t remember the book giving any hints about where it was, but I’ve always assumed that it was somewhere in rural southern England, because kids weren’t usually evacuated too far from home.  Having said which, Mrs Macready does sound like she’s Scottish.  Most of the music sounded very Celtic, and there was a lot of dancing jigs!   We all associate C S Lewis so closely with Oxford that I suppose we tend to forget that he was actually from Belfast, with some Scottish ancestry: I’m not sure if that’s why the composers/choreographers Celtified it, but it worked very well.

I’m making it sound as if it was nothing like the book!   It was – the main elements of the story were all there.  Like a lot of people, I first read the book as a young child, and I’m not sure that you really take it all in at that age: there are some very powerful themes in there, and, of course, there’s been some controversy about them over the years.  But the main themes of sticking by your family and friends, of clinging on to hope, of courage, of fighting for what’s right and of good triumphing over evil are fairly universal in children’s books, and that very much came across in this adaptation.  And sticking together and not losing hope are themes that couldn’t be more relevant at the moment.  Love and best wishes to anyone reading this – stay safe x.