Wind In The Willows
Performed during 2003
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Technical Crew Details:
Reviewed by Keith Lancing for The Croydon Advertiser
Although the elements threatened to flood the river bank on the first night on Tuesday, Mr Toad, Ratty, Moley and the rest exuberantly overcame the torrent to provide a thoroughly entertaining version of Kenneth Grahame's classic tale.
Alan Bennett's adaptation features some comically satirical modern anachronisms, highlighting the political leanings and class background of some of the characters, but the show can be enjoyed on different levels, by different ages.
Although the lighting is rudimentary, the stage management is well-drilled, the sound effective, and the design amusing and consistent - the wheel-yourself boat, train and car, for example. Costumes are dominated by large tails and complementary ears.
The players give bold, cartoon-like, but not threatening characterisations, which hold youngsters' attentions very easily, and are enjoyable for all ages. Emma Rose is a twittery, high-pitched, happy, excitable Mole, contrasting well with Richard Lloyd's macho, good-natured, Northern Badger, for example. Ratty seems to come from a world far removed from our own in a nice but dim sort of way as played by Chris Blakeney.
My favourite character is Albert, the flatulent, lugubrious, exploited horse, played by Mike Brown, whose role as everybody's factotum explains his Marxist tendencies.
Paul Ford is a bouncy, rubber legged braggart of a Toad, appropriately trance-like at the allure of the motor car, and pompous enough to look very silly when escaping from prison disguised as a washer woman.
The evil weasels, stoats and fox are a troupe of pantomime or Gotham City villains, marshalled energetically by their nasty chief Chris Strachan.
Mark Taylor's substantial original music score adds greatly to the atmosphere of the event, and underlines some of the dramatic highlights, and a large supporting cast of rabbits, hedgehogs and squirrels adds to the feel of a crowded but quaintly attractive river bank.
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