Everyone thinks you can only get to the magical land of Narnia through a enchanted wardrobe, but on a dreary, wet evening a trip to the Three Sixty Theatre proved otherwise. The temporary theatre, sited in Kensington Palace Gardens, is a cross between a circus big top and a marquee. Surrounded by wooden decking and with picnic tables to eat your sandwiches, an afternoon matinee performance and an al fresco lunch would make a great family day out.
As we wound our way into the theatre tent we were a little disconcerted at the number of young children in the audience, never a good omen if they get bored. In the round the theatre consisted simply of an empty, circular stage from which rose the wardrobe. The magic came as the whole audience were taken into Narnia itself though amazing light shows reflected onto the canvass walls. We were treated to snow and ice, the coming of spring and the fiery depths of darkness.
On stage the children were portrayed brilliantly with Rebecca Benson as Lucy and Jonny Weldon's Edmund particularly poignant. It was the costumes though that helped bring the performance to life. Seeing the trees walk across the stage and gather conspiratorially together to protect Lucy and the faun Mr. Tumnus a camp and brilliant performance by Forbes Masson. Jadis the white witch played by Sally Dexter was magnificently evil.
As the magic unfolded and the puppet like mystical creatures kept appearing; I was particularly intrigued by the way the Centaur walked; there was not a single peep from a child. It was not until the arrival of the lion, Aslan that the whole audience erupted into a spontaneous cheer.
Using puppet style costumes, where you can see the puppet masters is always a risk, but the brilliance of the movements made the mystical animals come to life in a surprisingly moving way and Aslan's leaping and roaring had the audience on the edge of their seats.
Whether you have children with you or not, this adaptation of the C.S Lewis story will transport you back to your own childhood and just for an hour or two you will believe again that magical worlds where good prevails over evil are just on the other side of the wardrobe.