Will Tuckett's production of The Wind In The Willows is the most breathtakingly stunning piece of theatre I have ever seen. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the show as I presumed it would be aimed primarily at children. However, I was delighted to discover that the show has huge wide appeal.
The Wind in the Willows marks the first time a Royal Opera House production has transferred into the West End. The production sits cosily in the Duchess Theatre where Kenneth Grahame’s world is brought to life. The theatre’s intimacy allows everybody to feel involved.
Tony Robinson leads the cast as Kenneth Grahame, narrating the famous story. The narration links the piece together nicely and never becomes too much. There are long gaps between narration and only a handful of musical numbers which feature singing. The balance is spot on.
The cast are ridiculously talented and put their all into every moment. It is an ensemble show and the cast work together to take the audience on an unforgettable journey. The dance is fascinating to watch and the puppetry is highly effective. The Royal Opera House's production is genuinely faultless. The lighting, set, puppet, sound and costume design, direction and choreography is simply flawless.
Martin Ward's music is beyond phenomenal. I could listen to the score all day every day. There are few moments of silence, but as the music is so perfect and in complete sync with the choreography you barely notice it’s there – the score blends into the magical world. The band are terrific, when the interval came I realised that I had almost been put into some sort of trance. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so relaxed in a theatre.
The first act is hypnotically dreamlike whilst the second act drives the story forward and brings some comedy into the mix. The entire performance lasts just one hour and forty minutes (including a twenty minute interval) leaving no time for anyone to become bored or fidgety.
The Wind in the Willows makes the perfect introduction to theatre for children. Even those who are too young to follow the story will sit in utter awe of the visually stunning production. Grandparents, parents, lovers of dance and lovers of storytelling will all also enjoy this superb production of The Wind in the Willows. It is certainly a theatrical experience to remember and, hopefully, the first of many commercial transfers from the Royal Opera House.
Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins
The Wind in the Willows runs at the Duchess Theatre until 1st February 2014