Spectacle is the star of this show. From the huge wardrobe which rises out of the ground to the atmospheric circular projection, the stilted reindeer and the magnificent, larger than life Aslan puppet, operated Warhorse style, by three people, and filmic epic battle scenes, it really is full of visual excitement. There’s an enjoyable giant towards the end, too, along with sinister wolves leaning on front stilts and some splendid masked fantastical beasts - among other delights.
Rebecca Benson (Lucy) and Forbes Masson (Mr Tumnus) in The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe at Kensington Gardens (previous picture shows Sally Dexter as the White Witch) Photo: Tristram Kenton
Goold’s large scale, multi-dimensional adaptation of Lewis’s powerful story of good, evil, redemption and forgiveness, makes the Christian allegory (a muzzle of thorns for Aslan, for example) clear for those who want it but it is not laboured. And there’s some fine acting, singing, dancing and circus skills from a strong ensemble which includes several actor musicians. Rebecca Benson is feisty but vulnerable as Lucy, Jonny Weldon is moving as the erring Edmund, Sophie-Loiuse Dann a joy to watch as the flirty, all-singing all-dancing Mrs Beaver and Paul Barnhill sings beautifully as Mr Beaver.
Sally Dexter is a formidable White Witch although she looks disconcertingly like a cross between Miss Havisham and Cruella de Ville in the first half and a touch too much pantomime villainess throughout,
Another problem is that the sound balance is not always quite right. It means that some of the words are swamped by music and sound effects - and that is a pity because Adam Cork’s songs are very good.