Reviews are in for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, now running at the Gillian Lynne Theatre.
C.S. Lewis’ much-loved story is magically brought to life by director Michael Fentiman, based on Sally Cookson’s original Leeds Playhouse production, which played at the Bridge Theatre in 2019.
The show stars Samantha Womack as the evil White Witch alongside Ammar Duffus, Shaka Kalokoh, Robyn Sinclair and Delaney Hayles as the Pevensie children, Peter, Edmund, Susan and Lucy. Chris Jared plays Aslan, the lion.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is booking until 8 January 2023 at the Gillian Lynne Theatre, London.
Check out reviews from the Guardian, Times, Evening Standard and more.
Photos by Brinkhoff-Moegenburg
The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe reviews
"A new-look Narnia delivers deep magic"
"It boasts breathtaking ensemble work, in particular the transitions between the art deco wardrobe and the snowy world beyond, filled with billowing parachute silk."
"Samantha Womack is terrific as the witch (a more subtle despot than Cruella) and I noted with interest the stonily depressed look on her face – tyranny as mental affliction."
"A dark, riveting revamp"
"This exhilarating production of CS Lewis’s timeless tale delivers spellbinding spectacle, wartime drama and perfect puppetry"
"This captivating production takes the wartime framing of CS Lewis’s tale and bleeds it across the fantasia. It is still, in spirit, a children’s story but contains all the grit and gore of war and feels far darker than the 1950 novel."
"Samantha Womack’s White Witch is all hard edges and glaring looks yet resists becoming a pantomime villain."
"The pace has a stately grandeur; nothing is rushed and some scenes come to feel a little inert. The siblings, played efficiently by adult actors, are a little featureless at first but these are quibbles in a show that is orchestrated masterfully."
"Ponderously slow and woefully short on magic"
"The charms of this small-stage production evaporate in the West End"
"Samantha Womack is an icy, one-note witch while the giant puppet of Aslan the lion comprises only a head, musclebound front legs, and a jinking tail. It looks like a roadrunner on ‘roids. The third-billed wardrobe, however, is solidly impressive."
"A fantastical, and functional, trip to Narnia"
"That awful moment when Aslan the lion is put to death is still chilling, yet some of the magic has seeped out of a production, originally devised by Sally Cookson, that started life at Leeds Playhouse five years ago"
"There doesn’t seem to be much of a tingle factor in Tom Paris’s set design. (His costumes, however, are eye-catching.) This vision of Narnia’s landscape lacks grandeur and mystery; even the frost seems less beguiling."
"There's no denying its charm"
"Inventive adaptation of the CS Lewis classic arrives in the West End"
"The production does feel tonally divided, as if it can’t quite decide whether it’s a Vera Lynn-singing nostalgic ode or a radical interpretation that recasts the Narnian resistance as climate activists. But, overall, it does a good job of telling the story with clarity and evoking the world of Narnia with style."
"I wanted The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to evoke wonder"
"In all it’s a shrewd commercial package for families — but like a municipal swimming pool designed by centralised health and safety, it lacks depth."
"Yes, there is spectacle aplenty, but too little of the “fundamental seriousness” of religious hope. Aslan’s resurrection involved some amateurish fumbles. With the exception of the dear little faun Mr Tumnus (Jez Unwin) it all left me a little cold and, I’m afraid, lifeless."
"British theatrical verve at full pelt"
"First seen in 2017, Sally Cookson’s marvellous stage adaptation – now at the Gillian Lynne Theatre – combines profundity and playfulness"
"Director Michael Fentiman was recruited to make the production touring-friendly; he applied his own sensibility, and a new creative team, bringing actor-musicians folksily to the fore, cramming the spry action with visual flourishes and springing more illusions."
"All aboard for a bewitching return to Narnia"
"There is a distinct echo of Harry Potter at the start of this imaginative, occasionally spectacular adaptation of C. S. Lewis's classic when the four Pevensie children — Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy — evacuees from a blitzed World War II London, gather on a station platform. The fantastical world of Narnia clearly inspired J. K. Rowling."
"It feels a little curious, in the middle of summer, to be watching a wintry tale that comes complete with an appearance from Father Christmas. But this brooding adaptation of CS Lewis’s much-loved, quasi-religious fantasy adventure casts its chilly spell in spite of the odd timing."
"Womack is imperiously nasty and seductively glamorous, and there’s a moment of glorious, awestruck dread when she levitates high over the stage in triumph, her gown billowing."
"The grotesque face-off at the Stone Table, with Aslan sacrificing himself to Womack and her army of demons, is properly nightmarish, a phantasmagoria set to an ominous thunder of drums. It’s a thrilling climax in a show that, at its best, makes a shivery family treat."