December 6, 2008

"Whatever happens in life, always wipe your sword"

"The Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe" was the third performance I've seen so far at the Royal Lyceum Theatre. I've become spoiled with my front row seats at a very inexpensive student concession price. A group of MC ladies went on Friday Dec fifth to celebrate the end of classes and a break from all of our paper-writing and studying. The play (really a musical, because yes, there was singing) helped to put us in the holiday spirit. You know how the story goes in Narnia: "always winter - never Christmas"...well, spoiler alert, Santa Claus showed up. A great big jolly black Santa, which at first I thought was great because I figured that the producers had done a blind casting. In other words they ignored race and just picked the best actor for the part. One point for equal rights. But then I remembered that typically the actor who plays Santa, also plays Aslan, because they parallel each other in the story, so really they type-casted an African man to play the lion... not so blind after all.  
But hey, he did a great job. Aside from the fact that he was blatantly a man and not a lion, and that the girls playing Lucy and Susan were only about five years younger than him, so when he said things like "come pet my mane" or "jump on my back" it alluded to much more than I think C.S. Lewis would have liked it to. Lewis was all about the Christianity story line, not so much a grown woman riding a grown man story line, I think that falls more under the Carroll category. [Fun fact: C.S. stands for Clive Staples... no wonder he went by his initials]. There was so much sexual tension between Mr. Tumnus and Lucy when they were in his den that all six of us were squirming uncomfortably in the front row. Awwwwwkwarrrrrd. But once we got past all that, the performance was really spectacular. They had elaborate sets for Tumnus' den, the Beaver's dam, the Round Table, Castle Cair Paravel, etc. We were stunned at how easily they moved these sets around. Backstage must be four times as big as the actual stage to accommodate all of it!  
The show was adapted for children, so there was a lot of over-acting going on, and even a song and dance by the Beavers. But the humor was enjoyable. Although I started to forget which fairy tale land we were in when Aslan, Lucy, and Susan were lifted into the air on wires and were flying over the stage. Maugrim, the wolf who was head of the police for the White Witch, had a hook for a hand. Narnia... or Neverland? Or Wonderland with all of the sexual awkwardness? It's like they couldn't decide.    
I rather enjoyed the part when Aslan wanted to honor Peter on the battlefield. Aslan took the boy's sword, still covered in blood from killing the wolf, and told Peter to clean the sword first. Then after Peter kneeled and he tapped both of his shoulders with the weapon to bestow honor, Aslan turned to the audience and said "whatever happens in life, always wipe your sword" which got a great laugh from all of the adults there with their kids (and for the six immature grad students sitting in the first row).  Even though they over-acted for the kids, they also pandered to the rest of us with an elbow-in-the-side adult joke every now and then.  

a blurry picture of the inside of the Royal Lyceum Theatre

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