A scheming magician sends two children into different universes, leading to adventures involving evil queens, talking animals, and worlds old and new. 9th Hour Theatre brings the origin story of C.S. Lewis’ Narnia Chronicles to life as the first Narnia-themed production in their 2014 season.
Should you see it?
There’s never a dull moment in The Magician’s Nephew – within 60 minutes, this production takes us through three different worlds in five scene changes, introduces us to an evil queen and sets up the lion deity that will remain a constant throughout The Narnia Chronicles.
Young Digory and his friend Polly find themselves on an adventure when Digory’s Uncle Andrew tricks them into trying out transportation devices to different universes. As they explore the dying world of Charn and the first day of Narnia, Digory searches for a magical fruit that will help his desperately sick mother.
Uncle Andrew, played by Paul Washer, is just the right kind of kooky; he’s not evil, really, just a little unethical. Gabrielle Lazarovitz is the performance highlight as she hams it up as the actually evil Queen Jadis. She’s especially funny when she discovers that her terrifying magical powers are completely ineffectual in our world.
The talking animals of Narnia are a lot of fun, and I found myself wishing we could have spent more time with them. However, the true star of The Magician’s Nephew is Aslan, Narnia’s creator. The large lion puppet designed by Grace Solman manages to look commanding and silly at the same time.
Aurand Harris’ script is a bit heavy-handed when it comes to the parallels with the story of Adam and Eve, and some directorial decisions emphasize that to an almost painfully obvious point. Then again, I haven’t read the book in so long that it’s entirely possible that C.S. Lewis is just as blunt.
Directors Jonathan Harris and Mike Kosowan do a good job of keeping things visually interesting during the many transitions between worlds, and a simple set keeps things moving along quickly enough to avoid losing short attention spans. Live musical accompaniment composed by Margaret Smith also fills in the dialogue blanks – a song that comes near the end is still stuck in my head as I write this.
The Magician’s Nephew is great if you’re looking for something slightly out-of-the-box to do with your children during the March break. It seems to be a popular option, too – opening night sold out completely, while the audience looked mighty close to being full on Friday as well.
But that’s just my opinion and I’d love to hear what you think. What did you think of The Magician’s Nephew? Let me know in the comments below!
The Magician’s Nephew runs at the Centrepointe Studio Theatre until March 16th. Find out more in our show article.