THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS
by Kenneth Grahame adapted by Alan Bennett music and additional lyrics by Jeremy Sams.
Library Theatre Company at The Lowry Pier 8 Salford Quays M50 3AZ To 14 January 2012.
10.15am 5, 6, 10-13 Jan.
2pm 9 Jan.
2.30pm 30, 31 Dec, 2, 7, 14 Jan.
7pm 30 Dec, 3, 5-7, 14 Jan.
Audio-described/BSL Signed/Access Workshop 9 Jan.
Captioned 6 Jan 7pm.
Runs 2hr 25min One interval.
TICKETS: 0843 208 6010.
Review: Sadia Habib
Mayhem and mania in the Wild Wood of Wind in the Willows.
A musical, magical, mirthful trip down memory lane for those who grew up with tales of Toady, Ratty, Mole and Badger, and an engaging introduction for those yet to be acquainted with these loveable creatures. Lyrical, rhythmic lines maintain avid audience attention: “You have to pay the toll/Especially if you’re a mole/And you haven’t stayed in your hole,” with the clever retort: “I haven’t any money…. Bunny!” Throughout, there is adapter Alan Bennett wit, as in puns about “the rat race” and “being prickly”.
Mole (Sophie Gajewicz) is fascinated by the river which to the bunny is “a bit ordinary”. Judith Croft’s excellent design allows us to visualise all this as Rat comes along the river and Mole looks on in awe. We feel the passion for “messing about in boats” regardless of “whether you get anywhere at all”. Rat says: “It’s not a river” but “the river” and he loves to be in it and on it … “It’s my world and I don’t want any other”. Mole befriends Rat, and then Badger and Toad, and shares their ambitions, antics and adventures. The audience are privileged to be along on the ride, be it boat, caravan, motor car, or train.
The creatures have their lovable idiosyncrasies, making these these river-dwellers are like special friends. All are memorable but Paul Barnhill steals the show with his exuberant portrayal of enthusiastic and energetic Toad, welcoming us to his “humble home… the finest house in the whole of the river”. Toad Hall is indeed brilliantly projected onto to manifest its magnificence and splendour.
Also memorable is Jason Furnival as Albert, the glum horse from Brum: “one carrot and they think you’re anybody’s.” especially amuses us as this troubled existence is bemoaned in his glum Brum accent. And the greatest scene is the fight scene towards the end of the show – the slow-motion commotion has the audience in stitches – brilliantly orchestrated by fight director Renny Krupinski. Croft, and Wardrobe, deserves a mention as the costumes are superb: tails and ears, along with human-like costumes impress upon us the civilisation of these river animals.
Toad: Paul Barnhill.
Rabbit/Magistrate/Clerk/Weasel: Rosie O’Sullivan/Helena Rochester.
Badger/Washerwoman: Robert Calvert.
Rabbit/Portly/Stoat: Thea Jordan/Rachel McMurray.
Monica/Bargewoman: Kate Feldschreiber.
Albert/Magistrate: Jason Furnival.
Hedgehog/Weasel: Stephanie Hutchinson/Ashleigh Warrington.
Mole: Sophie Gajewicz.
Fox/Stoat/Rupert: Tarek Merchant
Hedgehog/Stoat/Policeman: Dale Gerrard/Jonathan Booth.
Chief Weasel/Car Salesman/Train Driver: Alun Saunders.
Weasel Norma/Gaoler’s daughter: Ruth Westley.
Rat: Christopher Wright.
Director: Chris Honer.
Designer: Judith Croft.
Lighting: Nick Richings.
Sound: Paul Gregory.
Musical Director: Tarek Merchant.
Video: Clare Neylon.
Movement: Bethan Rhys Williams.
Fight director: Renny Krupinski.
Assistant director – Joshua Azouz.