Joseph Ballard, the new development manager at The Atrium, North Walsham, has written and directed the Christmas show, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Pictured is actor Mike Jeffries who plays Mr Tumnus with North Walsham High School student Emily Knight 14 who plays Susan.
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Review: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

Thursday, December 20, 2012
10.51 AM

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

Atrium Theatre

North Walsham

Knockabout panto with its outrageous dames, daft ditties and bling be-decked balldresses is a much-loved part of Christmas.

But “choice” is the modern buzzword and it’s nice to be offered something equally entertaining, but completely different.

Joseph Ballard’s new adaptation of CS Lewis’s children’s classic fitted the bill.

It provided magic, children, a secret world, a wicked witch, a good lion, talking woodland creatures, battles, heroism - and plenty of snow.

Mr Ballard had special permission from the estate of CS Lewis to create a new adaptation of the tale and he has remained faithful to the story of four wartime evacuees - Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy - who discover the enchanted world of Narnia through a wardrobe in the home of a professor with whom they are staying.

The quartet take on the White Witch, who has kept Narnia in perpetual winter (with no Christmas, for goodness sake) for 100 years. With the help of the wise lion Aslan they restore right, light and spring.

The set was simple, but effective, and judicious use of music and sound effects created atmosphere - though a touch loud at times.

Courtney Bennett gave an excellent performance as the youngest sibling Lucy, always animated and childlike.

Nicole Tremblay was a cool and controlled White Witch and how good to see tradition turned on its head - Disney villains always have English accents but this baddy spoke with an American drawl.

Mike Jefferies very successfully managed the deeply contrasting roles of timid faun Mr Tumnus and malevolent wolf Maugrim.

And Dominic James played the professor for laughs, with his oft-repeated “What do they teach children in school these days?” aimed at those who know him as acting deputy head teacher of the neighbouring North Walsham High School.

● The show continues until December 22, with two performances on Saturday. Tel: 01692 400080 or visit: www.theatrium.org.uk

Alex Hurrell