Former soap star Samantha Womack has said she thinks her upcoming theatre production of The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe is “the kind of production we should be watching coming out of lockdown”.
The 48-year-old will play the evil white witch in the new adaptation of CS Lewis’ classic novel in a show which will tour across the UK and Ireland, starting in Leicester on November 2.
Womack told the PA news agency: “I’ve often wondered, and it comes with, I suppose, people being very careful in terms of what they’re selling or portraying in productions now, I think certainly with kids productions, I always think it’s a shame to lose the darkness and the kind of slightly macabre.
“Since I can remember when I was little it was those stories that always captured my imagination.
“And I think that with things like Willy Wonka and all those kind of depictions of childhood characters that had a kind of darkness to them, I always really hate when they’re overly sanitised.
“And I think kids can take more than that now, I think the opposite is true, kids understand a lot more now.
“So the kind of metaphors that were used in CS Lewis’ original text about the world at large and uprising and kind of innocence rising up over evil.
“And I know certainly sometimes there were more controversial understandings of the piece.
“But I think that it’s darker and it’s deeper than that, and I really think that this production, visually and in terms of its casting, is going to bring that depth.
“It feels like that should be the kind of production we should be watching coming out of lockdown.
“Something a little bit kind of dark and weird and magical and uplifting but scary at the same time.”
The TV and theatre actress said she has always been “fascinated” by the character of the white witch as she is a “really weird mix of seduction and a gentle kind of sophistication”.
She added: “She feels more than just a ‘baddie’ in a novel, she feels a bit more three dimensional, and she feels kind of interesting and ever-changing.”
Womack also said the design of the show would be “less cartoon Narnia” and “far more Game Of Thrones” by “going back to the kind of pagan world, the natural world and all the kind of spirit and power that it holds”.
She previously starred as Ronnie Mitchell in the soap opera EastEnders, and also played Tanya Porter in comedy-drama Mount Pleasant.
Her previous theatre credits include touring across the UK playing Morticia Addams in the stage musical The Addams Family.
After Leicester, the production will tour through Aylesbury, Southampton, Sunderland, Salford, Cardiff, Aberdeen, Nottingham, Edinburgh, Canterbury, Plymouth, Glasgow, Birmingham, Dublin and Woking, ending in Norwich in April 2022.