Steampunk meets Narnia

Holly Elson-Fisher (Susan), director Fi Gudsell, Amber Sadgrove (Fenris Ulf) and Tracey Hilt (Unicorn) from the Waihi Drama Society’s production of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Strange creatures, part mystical, part steampunk and totally entertaining captivated audiences at the Waihi Drama Society's theatre in the play The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe from March 31 – April 9.

It was director Fi Gudsell who cleverly decided to bring the quirky twist to the much loved C.S. Lewis story of four children who stumble into the troubled world of Narnia through a large wardrobe.

“Though no steamships or railways exist in the original Narnia he writes of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, we are sure CS Lewis would approve of the fun steampunk twist in his classic tale,” the play's programme reads.

It may be in the title, but the wardrobe never makes an appearance on stage. Instead, in keeping with the steampunk theme, the set resembles a Victorian factory dominated by a huge steaming brick boiler/oven which, with a little help from wood nymphs (Cathie Bullock and Toni Morrison) and the imagination of the audience, plays a number of roles, including as an altar for a terrible execution.

The White Witch (or as she prefers “Queen”) Peta Baskerville is convincingly evil and loud, while Captain of her Secret Police Fenris Ulf, (Amber Sadgrove), is frighteningly sinister in her steampunk monocle.

In contrast Aslan (Paul Schuler), of golden complexion with a claw hand, radiates calmness, compassion and wisdom. Mr and Mrs Beaver (Brad Old and Lucy James) Unicorn (Tracey Hilt), Centaur (Josh Meehan) and Tumnus (Zeta Schuler) are part of the “Resistance” against the evil witch and play well their roles as frightened creatures, albeit with faith in Aslan's return and that “The Prophecy” will be fulfilled.

Fenris Ulf (Amber Sadgrove) and Aslan (Paul Schuler) greet the audience after a performance.

The humans, Lucy (Evelyn Arevalo) Edmund (Ethan Clarke) and Peter (Vaun Arevalo), dressed in period costume, not steampunk style, are polished performers, quickly drawing the audience into the strange world they have discovered on the other side of the wardrobe.

Saturday night's performance was a credit to every one of the 30-strong cast and all those backstage. As always, the Waihi Drama Society's talented team has created a captivating production to entrance and entertain.

The steampunk theme was cleverly woven into the stunning costumes of Narnia's diverse creatures, thanks to the skill of the society's team, and Steampunk Thames Inc lending some of the costumes for the production.

The play, based on an adaptation of the C.S. Lewis story by American playwright Joseph Robinette, had its last performance at Waihi yesterday.

Steampunk, inspired by the 19th century era of industrial steam powered machinery and advances in technology, has a science fiction and science fantasy theme too and is increasing in popularity, with Thames in the North Island and Oamaru in the South Island holding annual steampunk festivals.



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