The Wind in the Willows - ★★★★
The Wind in the Willows is an enchanting journey into the winter season. Commissioned by the Royal Opera House, this much loved magical tale of Ratty, Mole, Badger and Mr Toad is brought to life through dance, song and the wonderful music composed by Martin Ward.
Will Tuckett choreographs and directs this inspired production of The Wind In The Willows at The Vaudeville Theatre. He asks you to use your imagination as you are transported from the study of narrator Kenneth Graham to the banks of the riverside, as we join in the misadventures of the mischievous Mr Toad and his friends through the inspired stage design of The Quay Brothers.
The narrator is played by Alan Titchmarsh who embarks on his West End debut, endearing and heart-warming, he’s a loveable storyteller that makes you want to order a hot chocolate and get snuggly. He sits in his Grandfatherly chair, book in arms and provides a voice for the animals as they bring his story to life on stage and he playfully interacts and participates in their adventure.
The charmingly designed costumes by Nicky Gillibrand are Edwardian inspired and offer great character to the animals from the very suave Ratty to eccentric Mr Toad. Melancholy Badger dressed with top hat and a smoking pipe, is the wisest of them all and hatches a plan to spring Toad from jail after a reckless driving incident, only to find his beloved Toad Hall has been overrun with weasels and stoats. The puppetry of the weasels are skilfully executed with real life detail and mannerisms as they snake and crawl across the stage with panto-baddie jeer.
This really is great a festive treat, especially for children, there’s even some interval antics as Mr Toad runs around the auditorium being chased by police as kids were chuckling behind me. But don’t get me wrong, this is a great show for adults too, there’s a really magical moment just before the interval but I won’t spoil it for you… you’ll just have to journey to the riverside yourselves this Christmas for a truly inventive and warm re-creation of a classic tale.
Wind in the Willows runs until 17th January at the Vaudeville Theatre.
Reviewed by Rebecca Usher
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