Magic Rings and a Magic Performance
Alexandra Milman (age 12)
Much to my delight I am pleased to say that I really enjoyed C.S. Lewis’ The Magician’s Nephew, directed by Jonathan Harris and produced by 9th Hour Theatre, at Centrepointe Theatre. This tale is about two children, Polly (played by Sarah Stapleton) and Digory (played by Darren Emery), who each try on a magic ring and are teleported to another world, a world that’s dead. In this world Digory awakens the evil Queen Jadis, as played by Gabrielle Lazarovitz. When the kids try to escape they end up bringing her back with them to England, where they try to dispose of her by trying on a different ring which brings them all to a new world, and that’s just the beginning of Polly and Digory’s adventures!
This world called Narnia is a place where animals can talk and the ruler is a powerful lion named Aslan. Jadis tries to take over Narnia, but when her powers fail her she flees. Aslan orders Digory to retrieve a magic apple that would both protect Narnia from future attack and heal Digory’s ill mother. Despite interference from the evil Queen, Digory is successful in his quest. Aslan orders Digory to get rid of the rings and sends him and Polly back to their own world. Once back home Digory gives the apple to his ailing mother and Polly buries the rings.
I love how the stage was used in this story of good versus evil. I was fascinated how using the same props they were able to create three different worlds, three completely different atmospheres such as: the attic, the dead world of Charm, and the new world of Narnia. Using a tree, a desk, a staircase, a ramp, and green and black sashes they were able to demonstrate these different worlds. So I believe that set designer Emily Soassana did an amazing job there.
I also really enjoyed the animals that were played by actors, but I must admit I believe the most convincing performances were the Lazarovitz’s evil queen Jadis, Aunt Letty played by Janet Rice, the suspicious magician played by Paul Washer, and Ken Tucker who played the voice of the puppet Aslan. What I liked about their performances was that they seemed to really feel their characters and each had unique voices and a personality. For example, Lazarovitz’s showed that her character was proud because she walked with her shoulders pushed back and head up, and when she was angry her breathing changed completely as did her posture and the tone of her voice. I think her strongest area was speech as she really showed her emotions through her vocal work.
Similarly, Janet Rice’s strongest points were body language and speech because when she was sad her head was lowered and she spoke quietly and solemnly, or when she was mad she spoke clearly with her head squared to show she was making a point. Paul Washer also used a lot of body language, facial expression, and variety of speech. While he was in Narnia he was shaking, he was avoiding eye contact with the animals and his voice was uneven which gave the impression that he was really terrified. I would also like to express how much I loved Aslan as a puppet, so I believe puppet designer Grace Solman did a wonderful job of making it appropriate for the production.
Another thing I liked about this play was how synchronized everything was. I was astonished how in the scene where the kids are in the world of Charm, the bell on stage moves the instant the queen puts a spell on it. Another moment is when Polly disappears. It was so well done I didn’t even see how she escapes.
Although I really enjoyed this performance overall, the end does disappoint a bit. Polly and Digory decide to bury the rings but Polly picks up the box and then sets it back down on the table which makes it look they broke their promise to Aslan. Therefore the story seems incomplete.
I also found it strange that all the music was live except the lion’s roar. The lion’s roar felt unrealistic because every time he roars it’s done in the same way, the same tone, the same length, and the same volume. This made it a little boring.
Other than those couple of exceptions I found that this was an amazing performance and I would recommend it highly!