IT MAY not be panto, but The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is the perfect Christmas play.
For this is the story of Christ, his sacrifice to take on the sins of the world and to save us from the forces of the evil one.
Told as a children’s adventure, this CS Lewis classic has become part of our literary heritage.
And thanks to numerous film and stage adaptations it continues to appeal to new generations of youngsters - as well as their parents and grandparents!
However, this latest version performed by Chichester Festival Youth Theatre and dramatised by Adrian Mitchell is one of the best interpretations yet.
Its secret is not just in Shaun Davey’s great music, the magnificent turning set, or the brilliant performances by the youngsters themselves.
The story has been perfectly edited to keep it tight and well-paced.
So often, productions have remained too true to every comma in the Lewis original - which has made them sluggish.
This one avoids all those pitfalls.
The cast changes slightly on rota. On the night we reviewed - Thursday - they were on sparkling form.
Twyla Doone gave a ruthlessly convincing performance as the White Witch.
Aslan, the lion representing Christ, was an extraordinary creation - three actors epitomising the great king.
His first appearance, elevated up through the stage made the dramatic statement that was intended.
But throughout, this crisply and imaginatively directed production by Dale Rooks, surprised.
The tone was set by the evacuee children impersonating the steam train on which they were travelling from Paddington to Oxford.
All in all, a great Christmas treat. Bewitching.