The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Mirador Theatre) 2012 Toronto Fringe Review

I’m not sure if it is harder or easier to enjoy a children’s play without children. I suppose the answer might change depending on whether you actually have any (I don’t). But I believe that enjoyable theatre should be enjoyable despite the age level of the audience it’s aimed at, or the actual ages of audience members at any given show.

I don’t buy this whole culture of sanitization that seems to seep into much of the popular children’s programs out there right now. And I was very pleased to discover that Mirador Theatre’s condensed ­Fringe version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe doesn’t appear to buy into this either.

There is death in this ‘kids’ show. There is violence. There are swordfights and blood! And yet it’s still ‘kid-friendly,’ because the whole thing is very ridiculous and silly and makes it clear from the start that it’s all a story. Think The Muppets as opposed to The Backyardigans.

I have to admit that when Lucy (Marla Brennan) burst out at the beginning of the play with “we all die at the end!” I looked at the tiny figures around me to see how they (or their parents) would react. They didn’t, really. But later when Peter (Stevie Jay), dressed as Aslan, pantomimes driving a hat stand through the White Witch’s chest, everyone giggled.

It’s too silly not to – the White Witch (Brennan again) writhes dramatically and whines in her hilarious, put-on voice about the unfairness of it all. Plus, immediately after ‘dying,’ Brennan jumps up and back into her Lucy character to finish telling the story.

Each of the fifty minutes in this play is delightful. These actors offer the best of clowning, they are so very silly yet remain far from the edges of melodrama. Their enthusiasm was enough to make the half-empty theatre feel full. I can’t imagine how much fun the previous day’s sold-out show must have been.

It was easy to tell that the rest of the audience felt the same as I did. The kids were happy to sit at the front and call out, “don’t do it!” at tense moments, and the few solo adults were happy to sit at the back and watch both the great show and the glee it inspired in the younger ones.

Details

  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe plays at FringeKids! – Palmerston Library Theatre (560 Palmerston Ave)
  • Performances are: July 05 12:45 PM, July 06 04:30 PM, July 08 04:00 PM, July 09 11:30 AM, July 11 07:30 PM, July 12 12:45 PM, July 13 02:45 PM, July 15 05:15 PM
  • All individual Fringe tickets are $10 for $6 for children, at the door (cash only).
  • Tickets are also available online at www.fringetoronto.com, by phone at 416-966-1062, or in person at The Randolph Centre for the Arts, 736 Bathurst Street (Advance tickets are $11 – $9+$2 service charge)
  • Value packs are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows

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