Tea Tree Players Theatre Youth. Tilley Recreation Park. 15 Jul 2021
A chilly, rainswept Adelaide night was the perfect occasion to see C.S. Lewis’ enduring tale of four children’s adventures in the snow covered world of Narnia. Oddly enough, the idea that a child can go into an old wardrobe and come out the other side into a parallel universe is still quite an acceptable concept, and that can only be a good thing!
The story follows the four Pevensie siblings who have been sent to the countryside for safety during the blitz (WW2). The costuming reflects this era - floral frocks and loose fitting slacks – but there is little reference otherwise. Having wandered through the aforementioned wardrobe into Narnia, Lucy (Gaby Taylor), Peter (Matthew Visciglio), Susan (Ashlee Brown) and Edmund (Zack Brittan) find themselves at the centre of a hostile takeover of Narnia. It has been prophesied that ‘two daughters of Eve and two sons of Adam’ will appear in the land, and assist the mysterious lion Aslan to destroy the evil witch queen and restore Narnia to the garden it once was. Along the way, they will experience betrayal, forgiveness, sacrifice and resurrection. If you’re sensing Christian overtones here, you’re right on track.
This debut by co-directors Rhi Shapcott and Kristyn Barnes, themselves graduates of the TTP Youth group, is a simple production; good old fashioned theatre without the technical tricks and geegaws over-offered these days. Painted flats, the lamppost (of course) and bits of furniture brought on and off by wood nymphs works perfectly well, if a little slow at times. The story is somewhat edited – it’s a bit hard to fit an entire book into 90 minutes or so – but the production flows effortlessly, and there’s not really a sense of anything important being omitted.
This is an ensemble work, and the cast are obviously supportive of each other, but some standout performances must be mentioned. Mathew Wright (at 6 feet tall, beautifully cast as the Dwarf) has a wonderful time with his role, and though he’s meant to be bad, the entire audience loves him.
Jimmy White as Mr Beaver brings a much nuanced performance, using expression and his body to bring his character to life, and shows a maturity in stage craft that should be nurtured.
Max Shapcott as the White Witch displays a maniacally effective evil laugh; equally well voiced is the sonorous Aslan (Clinton Nitschke), roaring out his anger while equally tempering his beautiful baritone for gentler delivery.
Makeup is one of the stars of the show. In the manner of kiddies’ face painting, the representation of animal faces is superb; beavers, fawns, wolves and unicorns, with Aslan’s lion makeup an artistic standout. Well done!
Particular mention must be made of the volunteers looking after front of house. COVID plans are not easy to deal with, and audiences are not easy to shepherd. In this instance, they perform brilliantly, combining efficiency with good humour; they could teach a few other organisations how to get the balance right! Congratulations all.
When: Until 17 Jul
Where: Tilley Recreation Park