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Edinburgh review: Lucy, Lucy and Lucy Barfield (Pleasance Courtyard)

A gem of a piece from Edinburgh about the real-life Lucy who inspired the little girl in CS Lewis' Narnia books

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Lucy Grace
© Michelle Wormleighton

The Edinburgh Fringe is saturated with one-person pieces where the performer tells the audience a story about a personal journey they have made. The shows are like little cathartic (often more for actor than the audience) storytelling sessions and once you've seen rather a lot of them, the format can feel tired.

But there's always one gem which comes along to reaffirm your faith in the Fringe. Lucy, Lucy and Lucy Barfield is one such show. Simple, low-key and ultimately one hour of an actor relaying their tale to the audience, it is nonetheless incredibly poignant and beautifully constructed.

Onstage is Lucy Grace and she is obsessed with CS Lewis's Narnia novel series. Her obsession is heightened because her namesake plays such an important role in the tale of terrifying witches, new lands and weird beasts. Though she's all grown up, Lucy has always believed, deep down, that Narnia might actually exist. Then something happens – life, basically – to shake her believe in magical lands and she is driven back to her beloved Narnia books for safety. Here she notices a note in the front of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: CS Lewis has dedicated the novel to the real Lucy – Lucy Barfield.

Grace then decides to track down the original Lucy in an attempt to throw more light on the truth, or otherwise of Narnia, and Lucy Barfield turns out to be more elusive than you might expect. Grace's quest takes her to online Narnia chatrooms, conversations with the Lewis family and to meetings with old friends of Lucy Barfield. What she discovers is surprising and sad and in the hands of Grace, it's also very, very moving. The highs and lows of the life of Lucy Barfield become a symbol of hope to Grace, and to all of us watching, and an example of how stories can actually change lives.

Lucy, Lucy and Lucy Barfield is an extraordinary story of a normal person. It's also a sweet and painful tale told by someone searching for answers. Don't miss it.

Lucy, Lucy and Lucy Barfield runs at the Pleasance Courtyard at 3.30pm until 29 August.

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