Make-believe abounds in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe

Lucy (Dana Brooke) examines a forest lamp post in snowy Narnia. [Photo by Rudy Meyers Photography]

Words won’t do justice to the feeling you’ll have when you first see the snow.

The gasps of the children. The murmurs of parents. Snow on a stage–all the make-believe worked!

B Street Theatre’s one-act iteration of C.S. Lewis’s classic novel “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe” is a charming success from front to back.

Originally written by Le Clanché du Rand in 1989, this adaptation uses just two actors to tell the story of four children, a faun, a witch, a lion king and two beavers (among others) and pulls it off with a dollop of old-fashioned imagination.

Without giving too much away, the B Street crew add their own flavor to du Rand’s tale with a fusty, dry opening scene that eventually breaks the tension–and barrier–with the audience. In this moment, actors Dana Brooke and John P. Lamb explicitly invite viewers to suspend disbelief and use the power of imagination to see not two actors on a drab stage, but a magical, far-off place with talking, regal lions, great battles and, yes, snow.

Dana Brooke and John Lamb as Lucy and Peter (among others) in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. [Photo by Rudy Meyers Photography]

A two-player adaptation will naturally demand much from its actors, and when each has to play multiple roles (sometimes at once), the challenge reaches a new level. Brooke and Lamb deliver.

Not only is Lamb a runny-nosed Edmund, he is also his older brother Peter. He is Mr. Tumnus the Faun, Mr. Beaver and Aslan the Lion. Brooke is not just the central protagonist Lucy. She is also the great and terrible White Witch.

While Lewis was a devout Christian, and his Narnia series was steeped in biblical allegory, this adaptation handles the religious themes lightly.

In particular, the resurrection of a major character late in the tale prompts Lucy to ask how he came back to life. The reason provided is a bit convoluted and vague, leading both actors to break character, address the audience and shrug.

And we never forget what this adaptation is about. Wonder, adventure and the pure, quixotic practice of make-believe. Even the oldest in the crowd will remember how it felt to play, to hide, to seek. To approach the world with eyes ready to see anything, minds free to imagine what they will.

Oh, and the snow!

The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe plays at B Street Theatre through Sunday, May 6.

This piece has been edited to more accurately represent the characters. Edmund, not Peter, is the snot-nosed sibling.


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Dave Kempa
Editor at VOICES: River City
Dave Kempa is the founder and editor of VOICES: River City.