Image: Warwick Arts Centre

“Moving, funny, and often deeply sad”: Lucy, Lucy & Lucy Barfield review

Rating:

In her new solo-show Lucy, Lucy and Lucy Barfield, Lucy Grace demonstrates the truth behind C. S. Lewis’ adage that “there are no ordinary people.” Moving, funny, and often deeply sad, Grace tells the story of her search for Lucy Barfield, C. S. Lewis’ god-daughter and the inspiration for Lucy Pevensie.

In 1992, Lucy Grace read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe for the first time. A life-long obsession followed, a passion epitomised by a recording she made of the BBC adaptation, to which she mimes along perfectly. We first see Lucy in the throes of this childlike enthusiasm, swamped by a fur coat just like Lucy Pevensie’s. She seems ready to go on her own adventure.

This loss of innocence, a quietly heart-breaking moment to an audience full of young adults, was a revelation.

As a child, Lucy Grace thought that The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe had been written about her. A part of Lucy still believed that one day she would go to Narnia – until she was 26, and realised that the magical land she had fixated on did not actually exist.

This loss of innocence, a quietly heart-breaking moment to an audience full of young adults, was a revelation. The moment led her to pursue a real-life mystery- who was Lucy Barfield, with whom she shared a name and a powerful connection to Narnia? If Lucy Pevensie had been so important to the young Lucy Grace, then perhaps Lucy Barfield could be there for her as an adult.

It’s clear that Grace was looking for a real-life fairy tale when she started her search for Lucy Barfield.

Lucy, Lucy and Lucy Barfield is an impressive, moving show. Grace keeps the tone balanced well, steering the audience through poignant moments from Lucy’s life whilst providing much needed levity through her self-deprecating humour.

The stories she has chosen, both from her life and from Lucy Barfield’s, are delicately woven together. Very few of her tales were superfluous – though her anecdote about a New-Age co-worker calling her an Indigo Child did seem like filler.

It’s clear that Grace was looking for a real-life fairy tale when she started her search for Lucy Barfield. The magical story she wanted to find did not materialise. Instead, Grace found only fragments of a life that had been touched by tragedy. Frustratingly little information was available about Lucy Barfield – the world seemed desperate to forget her and paint Lucy Pevensie in her place.

If you don’t want to write to Lucy Barfield by the end of the show, then I’m certain you never believed in Narnia. 

Grace seems disheartened by the existing narratives surrounding Barfield, few though there are. She is angered by a Telegraph article that describes the “brutal truths” she faced in life, and by an actress who met Barfield but cannot remember a thing about her.

Through her show, Grace attempts to give Lucy Barfield a narrative of her own, and allows her own words, not C. S. Lewis’, come to the fore. The inclusion of Lucy’s poetry is a highlight of the evening: her cry that “my outward wings take me beyond/all mortal, earthly, fleshly things” is a poignant one. If you don’t want to write to Lucy Barfield by the end of the show, then I’m certain you never believed in Narnia.

 

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