Tuesday, March 23, 2010



OffSpringers at the Cramphorn Theatre Chelmsford

“What possessed him?” The eccentric professor [Henry Whitington] has allowed common tourists into his sanctum. And the C S Lewis estate has allowed hacks to adapt his classic works for stage and screen.

Some have been almost worthy – Adrian Mitchell for the RSC – but Irita Kutchmy's trite travesty has little sense of style either in its words or its music.

What it does do is allow a huge OffSpringers cast, some of them very tiny, to enjoy dressing as animals and being the Rabble, with Maria French's choreography making the most of every opportunity. Not a number goes by without the chorus creeping on to give support. Even the touching soliloquy for Edmund [Matthew Barnes] had Isobelle Molloy's chirpy Robin dancing around.

I liked the bold black and white setting; the all-important wardrobe was cleverly designed. Some of the most striking scenes were towards the end, with the stone table, using smoke and light to good effect. The best numbers were the tongue in cheek ones, like the tap-dancing invitation to tea.

When I saw the show, early in the run, there was some insecurity, and too many moments when nothing happened, awkwardly. The costumes, though, were superb [In Delight's Leonie Rose].

Performances of note included Tamara Anderson's seductive White Witch, well matched by Owen Green's noble Aslan. Ben Hitchen looked great as Tumnus the Faun, but could have been more fey; Eve French gave an assured performance as the youngest Pevensie – we shared her wonder as she wandered first into Narnia. Mr and Mrs Beaver [Kieran Young and and Rebekah Walker] were both very watchable; a shame they couldn't have a  better number.

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe was directed for OffSpringers by Alexandra Arrowsmith, with June Watson as Musical Director.

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