Step into the land of Narnia
By Tim Fitzgerald
The Tri-City News
Aslan is on the move and he’s heading to Coquitlam.
One of the most beloved children’s tales of all times, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, is set to take to the stage from Dec. 18 to 22 at the Evergreen Cultural Centre in Coquitlam.
Based on the fabled second book in C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, the production is being presented by the Pacific Theatre group based in Vancouver. This version of Lewis’ classic tale will feature two actors retelling the story of their adventures in Narnia.
Kaitlin Williams, whose credits with Pacific Theatre include Doubt and The Verona Project, will star as Lucy Pevensie opposite “her best friend and husband” Mack Gordon, who will play Peter.
“It’s a pretty full-circle, dreams-do-come-true moment,” said Williams, who first saw The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe performed by the Pacific Theatre when she was 12 years old.
The two characters, now grown up, come back to the room where it all began and set off to retell their adventures.
For director Kerri Norris, the chance to put her own stamp on one her favourite childhood books was too good to be true. She said she’s fascinated with the idea of a wardrobe being a portal to a world that treads delicately between a dream and reality.
Growing up in the bone-chilling province of Saskatchewan helped her to relate to the battles of the four Pevensie children and White Witch. She said with themes of dark and light, redemption and betrayal, and a world trapped in a blanket of winter always drew her in.
“It was a story of my childhood,” Norris noted, “and, as with other childhood things, it was set on my shelf, a memory I could revisit when nostalgic.”
It was exactly those notions that led artistic director Ron Reed to cast the play using just two actors. He said the book was not only one of his favourites as a child, it’s a story that he keeps coming back to as an adult. “It’s an extraordinary work of imagination, whose roots go very deep,” said Reed.
He said the idea of a small cast engages the imagination of the audience. The artistic director said instead of giving the audience his version of the characters or Narnia they give them the opportunity to experience their Narnia, which will be superimposed on the story played out by Williams and Gordon.
Reed also suggests the story is already so ingrained in the memories of so many readers that trying to recreate the settings are only bound to somewhat disappoint. “Engaging their own imaginations makes an experience like this so very potent. Perhaps it’s the essence of live theatre.”
Norris said the timeless nature of the story makes it classic tale at Christmas and noted it’s a book she has joyfully wanted to shared with her own daughters.
“There is something about seeing that world again through the eyes of a child,” she said. “‘Magic’ is always the word that comes to mind. And ‘wonder,’ And ‘acceptance.’”
She said her children were equally thrilled to learn she was directing the play for Pacific Theatre, noting that they rediscovered the magic inside the story, adding to her enthusiasm.
“There is magic to be found anywhere one chooses to find it.”
Showtimes are at 7 p.m. For information on tickets, call the Evergreen box office at 604-927-6555 or visit www.evergreenculturalcentre.ca.