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REVIEW: Wind in the Willows at the Everyman Theatre

REVIEW: Wind in the Willows at the Everyman Theatre

I’ve watched countless adaptations of this well-loved childhood story since I can remember. As a small child I was lulled to sleep each night to Allan Bennet’s audio. As an older child I watched it performed in theatres. Older still, I took the pushchair with sleeping infant to watch outdoor theatre in Sydney. When I saw Wind in the Willows advertised at the Everyman, I turned to said infant (now 9) and announced, you’re going to love this.

Now, this performance is not performed on the banks of a lake in summer. It’s inside, in the depths of winter. And it’s not even on a stage. It’s in a studio. So, my initial fear was that I may have set my son’s expectations too high.

Reader, I had not. The beauty of this play lies in the fact that no two adaptations will ever be the same. There are so many elements to such a seemingly simple tale, that, as I progress through the years, I appreciate another theme lost on me before.

The sheer diversity of audience members was a credit to how this tale, first written 112 years ago, speaks to all generations - the story of a diverse friendship; in species, in character, in mettle. The sincere, well meant, intervention efforts of true sensible friends, against their going concern of a lovable adventurous rouge.

The four actors wonderfully capture our favourite anthropomorphised characters. Sensible (boring) Ratty, and sage (grumpy) Badger. Brave (caring) Mole was quite frankly inspirational. And then of course aimless (fad obsessed) Toad; the once lazy tadpole, who never quite manages to learn his lesson, but always lands on his lucky webbed feet. As well as slickly playing other parts throughout the play, the talented foursome succeed in depicting the chaos of 100 badgers, and 100 rats, and 100 moles, all fighting off 100 stoats and weasels.

As my son commented afterwards, this tale is a journey; through friends made, paths travelled, lessons learnt, and battles won. So wonderfully depicted with simple props and stage direction that we jump effortlessly ourselves travelling down river by boat, journey along the lanes by caravan, the highways by motorcar, the canal by barge, and the tracks by steam. Credit also has to go to the accompanying sound and lighting crew who helped us suspend disbelief and feel like we were in the passenger seat every time.

So, come ye creatures of the riverbanks. Don your blazer and grab your picnic hamper - let’s crawl out from our winter hibernation into the sunbeams of spring. Seize the day, emboldened to venture into horizons new... while at the same time being grateful for what we already have. We could all do with being a bit more Mole.

Review by Rubalie

Explore Gloucestershire
25 January 2020

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