This year’s Thornden School GCSE production was The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, performed at Thornden Hall last week.
As expected from these talented pupils, it was a delight to watch and stretched the talents of the GCSE students – for both the Drama Acting and Drama Design and Technical courses.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, of course, is the second (not the first, as I have heard said) and most well-known of the Chronicles of Narnia.
Most of the action takes place in Narnia, but the opening and closing scenes occur in “our world”. This presented one of the first technical difficulties – how to quickly change the scene from one location to the other (especially when the Narnian ground was liberally dusted with snow). The solution was clever and effective: project the “our world” background onto a curtain, and play in front of that.
If you’ve read the books, you will know that another feature of trips to Narnia is that however long you stay there, only a few second pass back home. How could be represented, I wondered – or even would it be represented at all. The answer was “yes it would” – and with another neat dramatic trick. The first two visits (of Lucy and Edmund respectively) were played out twice – once from “our” side, then again from the Narnia side.
The characters were expertly and realistically played. Shy and quiet Lucy, truculent and rebellious Edmund, bossy sister Susan and eldest and leader Peter. We saw Mr Tumnus’s dilemma as he was torn between his obligation to the White Witch and his unwillingness to harm a “daughter of Eve”. Mr and Mrs Beaver were portrayed just as I imagined them from the book.
The main characters were supported by a large cast representing Narnia flowers and animals. The arrival of spring in Narnia was presented as a short ballet sequence, and the final battle saw all characters involved in a finely choreographed display. I particularly liked the “human stretcher” way by which the hot chocolate and Turkish delight were brought to the White Witch’s sleigh.
Equally important to the success of the production – possibly even more important in a production as technically complex as this – is the technical crew. A 49-strong technical team provided numerous special effects such as falling snow, the breaking stone table, and the spontaneous and unexpected bursting open of the wardrobe door. None of this “just happens”. Many hours of work must have been spent in planning, building and testing these elements.
School productions aren’t just about the final performance. They are about the enjoyment the pupils get from the teamwork involved in putting the production together, and learning how individual talents can work together to make a wonderful end result.
The cast comments in the programme show that this was achieved: “I am so happy … to be a part of this amazing play”, “… one of the best performances I have been in”, “it’s been an incredible expected with great people”. And for the audience, an exciting and enjoyable evening out.
a Chippy bonus point if you can tell me what it is about the wardrobe that gives it its magical properties.
Note: Let’s have a glimpse of the brilliant show. Thornden School sent Chandler’s Ford Today these pictures to share with our readers.
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