The Wind in the Willows
By Kenneth Grahame, adapted by Ciaran McConville
The Rose Theatre Kingston
Runs to 3 January
Two hours, including one interval
Review: Tom Aitken 10 12 16
Much loved favourite treated with fun and with respect; a seasonal treat
Timothy Bird’s set for this entertaining and hyper-active seasonal offering exploits the atmospheric possibilities of the Rose’s auditorium to the full. The various settings are all visible all of the time, advancing or being otherwise emphasized as required.
The Rose’s lighting equipment is able to suggest, to an uncanny degree, flowing water and this of course is invaluable.
The story told is fairly much Kenneth Graham’s, as are the characters. Although, as was abundantly demonstrated on Press Night, it can appeal to all ages, it is directed I would guess, with the youngest age band very much in mind.
Therefore, although, the arguments, skirmishes and battles that make up the action are tremendously vigorous, the youngest viewers are unlikely to be more than momentarily frightened, and the action carries them along open-mouthed.
From time to time Christmas carols are sung, and by sleight of directorial hand do not seem remotely out of place amongst all these people who mess about in boats, seeking to outwit each other as the personal conflicts which make up the plot become apparent and are argued through, often with punches, wrestling, hair-pulling and the like, but also, from time to time, with ineffably pompous speeches.
A good handful of in-jokes are added which give the adults present a good laugh, as in ‘I did Richmond last year––and that’s the proper panto.’
All the performances are good, but perhaps one has to mention that, shameless bounder as he is, Jamie Baughan’s Toad gets a considerable proportion of the loudest laughs.
But every character has his or her moment in the spotlight and although appalling threats are voiced, few of them are put fully into action. Differences of opinion are finally subsumed into the cheery statement that ‘There’s nothing half so worth doing as simply messing about in boats.’
The programme is well worth investing in and keeping after the show is over, for children to do the colouring in, crossword and other word puzzles and a picture of Toad to be coloured as
Doing that will carry with it memories of the huge fun enjoyed during the show itself.
Toad: Jamie Baughan
Otter, Mrs Badger, Aunty: Joy Brook
Badger: Derek Elroy
Mole: Gary Mitchinson
Ratty: Emma Pallant
Stoat, Timothy: Michael Taibi
Director & Adaptor: Ciaran McConville
Music & Musical Director: Eamon O’Dwyer
Design Timothy Bird
Lighting: Aideen Malone
Movement and Choreography: Jamie Neale