“He is as big as… a refrigerator!”
So says Mr. Beaver about Aslan in the Adventure Theatre’s production of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and so he is. More precisely, Aslan the lion, played by a human named Danny Pushkin, appears about 5′ 10” and looks nothing like a refrigerator, which would seem superfluous anyway in the frozen climate of Narnia. Yet the irreverence of the analogy, which Mr. Beaver compounds by further noting Aslan’s negligible resemblance to a battleship, constitutes one of the show’s many charms, embodying its exuberant depiction of the wonder and simple joi de vivre of childhood itself.
For this production is aimed, first and foremost, at children, though it will, in all likelihood, elicit greater appreciation from the adults who accompany them. Unlike the epic 2005 film, which portrayed a titanic struggle between good and evil, including a fearsome sequence depicting Aslan’s Christ-like death, the Fringe version ignores the religious symbolism in C.S. Lewis’s classic novel. Instead, with abundant humor and wit, it focuses on the simpler pleasures of dueling young siblings exploring a strange new world and trying, in their own Lilliputian way, to make sense of it all.
The show’s success stems not only from its writing, but also from the dynamic performances of its two stars, Pushkin and Kristen Egermeier, each of whom plays five characters. Egermeier seamlessly juggles the roles of Lucy, the White Witch, the Wolf, Dwarf and Susan, while Pushkin jumps to and fro in the shoes (or paws) of Peter, Mr. Tumnus, Edmond, Mr. Beaver and Aslan. Because the production lasts a meager forty-five minutes, all the characters but Lucy and Peter receive necessarily curtailed stage time. The actors’ talents, however, suggest they will encounter more prodigious stage opportunities in the future.