St Albans’ Company of Ten triumph with The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

PUBLISHED: 10:23 22 December 2011

Lucy taking tea with Mr Tumnus

Lucy taking tea with Mr Tumnus

Archant

IF the Company of Ten had urged their audience to call out ‘look out behind you’, when Aslan the Lion appeared in its Christmas show, it would not have felt out of place.

Because the magnificently-maned king of the jungle who is at the heart of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, which is currently being performed to packed audiences at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans, really steals a delightful show.

The Company of Ten generally opt to put on a Christmas show rather than compete on the panto front and there is no doubt they have a winner in Glyn Robbins’ adaptation of the C. S. Lewis classic.

That is due in no small part to the young actors who take the roles of Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy. On Tuesday night the parts were taken by Alex Went, Ellie Shreeves, Oliver Nurse and Hermione Lester respectively with Elouise Wathen as the Elf but I have no doubts that the other “team” of youngsters, Tom Walden, Leila Quinney, Christian Wells, Ella-Maria Lopez and Antonia Gampell, are just as good.

Indeed director Katherine Barry says in her programme notes that the standard of the children who came forward to audition was extremely high and the youngsters chosen often put the adults to shame by learning their parts quickly and knowing everyone else’s lines as well.

It is the combination of that youthful talent and established performers such as Tony Bradburn, Sue Parker and Alan Bobroff which makes the show so charming. In particular, the scenes with the children and Tony as Mr Beaver and Sue as Mrs Beaver are delightful.

On the dark side – or should that be the cold side as Narnia is covered in ice and snow – are Chrystalla Spire as a frosty White Witch and Daniel Robert Leigh as her henchman Maugrim, the actor with the most blood-curdling roar in the show.

Craig Duncombe is a charming Mr Tumnus but once Aslan comes on stage, all eyes are on him. The Lion’s Head was created by George White and worn by Nilesh Lathia with the voice of Derek Coe. The whole concept is magical.

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is not the easiest production to stage so all credit once again to the stage crew led by John Pyke for their vision and skill and to Katherine Barry for her direction.

The Christmas show runs until December 28 with performances at various times but it is fast selling out. Tickets can be obtained from the box office on 01727 857861 or online at www.abbeytheatre.org.uk

MADELEINE BURTON

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