Sunday, August 14

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – Rainhill Village Hall

Set up just over a year ago, The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe, directed by Samantha Moores with support from Choreographer Amy Balfour, is Individuality Youth’s first full production following last Christmas’ ensemble event at the same venue.

Siblings Lucy (Bracken Keyte), Susan (Lexie Haslam), Peter (Grace Spencer-Storey), and Edmund (Laia Morgan) are staying at the Professor’s house when Lucy steps into wardrobe and out again into the magical world of Narnia, a land of Beavers (Ella Davies and Ellen Rose Challinor) and Leopards (Louisa Nelson and Reeve Keyte) amongst other animals and where she meets Mr Tumnus (Elijah Dunne). All is not well though as The White Witch (Helena Hanlon) assisted by Maugrim (Alyssa McCormick) and Dwarf (Holly Spencer-Storey), terrorises all.

It soon becomes clear that Aslan (Sean Hanlon) needs more than the help of Mrs Christmas (Jessica Thompson) and a Giant (Poppy Trigwell) if the creatures of Narnia – a Chorus of Isla Coyle, Zara Pearse, Eva Pearse, Aaron Spencer-Storey, Lucy Roche, Caleb Coyle, Molly Sutton, Emily Greenough, Leeanne McCarthy, Mandi Roberts, Maisie Riley, Addison Manchester, Darcie Trigwell and a young girl who was unnamed) – are to survive and thrive, so he seeks the assistance of the four children. But will it be enough, and will it be in time?

There was an obvious touch of opening night nerves but all in all, the children – of whom 90% were under the age of eleven – performed admirably. Morgan caught the ambivalence of Edmund particularly well whilst Davies and Challinor’s Mr and Mrs Beaver were full of good humour. Dunne’s Mr Tumnus hinted at his natural talent and Thompson was in good voice as Mrs Christmas.

Having enjoyed the Christmas ensemble production, I would have liked more song and choreographed routines, but it is an obvious challenge with such a sizeable cast and chorus.

There was good staging and scenery from Tony Dagnall and Les Dagnall, with the costumes and props well considered, serving to bring the fantasy of Narnia to life.

With the first performance of any production one can expect some teething problems and tonight was no exception as some technical issues came to the fore on a couple of occasions that were, eventually, rectified. In the spirit of constructive feedback, the following are worth considering:

–              Bring the cast front and centre as much as possible to improve sound and visibility.

–              With the cast forward there will be improved blocking and less chance of drifting.

–              Think about sightlines when cast are crouching/sat.

–              With the cast forward, more seamless scene changes can be made in the background.

–              Seamless scene changes will result in a tighter production.

–              Try fading music in and out rather than start/stop and adjust the balance to better reflect the youthful voices.

Community in a wider sense was served with a fundraising raffle for ADAM – Achieving Dreams and Memories, a non-profit Foundation which solely relies on public donations & fundraising events. Further details https://adam-achievingdreamsandmemories.co.uk/

Individuality Youth meet weekly for children to have fun exploring the arts and deciding whether they love acting, dancing, singing, or making up stories. Further details via their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Individuality-Youth-102570548736668/ or email individualityyouth@hotmail.com

Further performances of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe will be held at Rainhill Village Hall on 9th and 10th July. Tickets available via www.ticketsource.co.uk/individuality-youth or call hotline number 07796 152946.

Weekend performances will feature Marina Forshaw as Peter.

Reviewer: Mark Davoren

Reviewed: 8th July 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★

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