When we got to Pacific Theatre for opening night of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, we were wondering, how is this gonna work? How are they gonna transport the landscape that is Narnia into the tiny theatre space that itself could've been the size of a wardrobe? How will they show us Aslan and the White Witch in all their grandeur?
Then we looked at the program and noticed there were only two people in the cast. Curioser and curioser.
Photo by Michael Julian Berz. Pictured: Mack Gordon and Kaitlin Williams
It turns out, this play is a stripped down bare bones show that introduces us to Lucy and Peter, all grown up now, and reuniting to reminisce about the good ol' days, those being the ones when they would escape into a magical wardrobe and into an enchanted land. If I wasn't familiar with the story of Narnia, I'm not sure if I would have gotten everything. I was trying to imagine myself as somebody who has never heard of the books or the movie before and decided to go to this play and what they might have thought.
It's cleverly done, with the two actors trading hats and coats to become a multitude of characters, from fawns and beavers to their rival siblings. Mack Gordon and Kaitlin Williams don their best British accents and transform from character to character, all the while narrating the action for the audience to imagine. They transition seamlessly between roles, and I can't imagine the amount of work they had to put into this. It's a hefty feat and a daunting task, for sure, so kudos to the two actors!
Pictured: Kaitlin Williams and Mack Gordon.
Imagination is the key to the production, as the set is minimal. The liner notes admit that no matter what was done, no matter what kind of budget they could have had, there was no way that they could match the Narnia of the mind. What we create in our imagination is always going to win out, thus the reasoning behind the simplistic telling of this tale.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe runs this holiday season until December 15 at Pacific Theatre. For more information on the upcoming tour of the lower mainland, check out the show's site.