Tuesday, 9 January 2007

The Wind in the Willows, Jan 9 to 27, 2007

The Wind in the Willows
Adapted from Kenneth Grahame
Botanical Gardens, Tues to Sat, Jan 9 to 27, 2007
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Sadly, The Wind in the Willows is no longer played on the banks of the Lake in the Botanical Gardens. 

Ratty used to row to shore and Otter to arrive in a wet suit out of the water. The latest starting location on the Eucalypt lawn is less magical and does not have good acoustics of the unamplified voices. The location of Toad Hall is much more effective.

A jolly Roscoe Mathers is the Head Chief Rabbit who entertains with songs and leads his band of little Rabbits, AKA the children. Kevin Hopkins is gleefully villainous as Weasel but not scary to littlies.

Ezra Bix, returning for the umpteenth time as Ratty, captures the broad comic character of the perky, boat-loving water rat. Peter Hosking plays Badger as a gruff old army General with a sleep disorder and Charlotte Strantzen is the timid Mole who has a compulsion to clean.

With Otter (James Stafford), the animal friends go on an adventure to visit the famous and very conceited Mr. Toad (Shannon Henriksson). Toad, ever the faddist, is obsessed with a stolen “Poop Poop” car the next. While Toad is in jail for stealing the car and abusing a policeman, Toad Hall is overrun by Weasel and his family.

The children, aged from toddlers to 8 or 9 years, are engaged on many levels. They love the cute characters, enjoy Mr Toad’s antics and Weasel’s naughtiness and delight in joining with the songs. They waggle their ears and wiggle their noses and sing “whispering willows”.

There are plenty of songs and silly choreography to entertain. These include The Wind in the Willows Blows, When the Toad Comes Home, the very singable Quack Quack Quackady Quack, Everybody Loves Mr. Toad and others.

Most of the kids raced off  willingly into the Wild Wood with Ratty, Mole and Badger on an energetic hunt for lost Otter, Portly.  While they were running through the trees, Head Chief Rabbit and Weasel entertained the parents with a little participation and plenty of adult gags and contemporary references such as Weasel’s unemployed cousin from Canberra, Kim Bweasley.

The show continues to work for children and the outdoor location makes The Wind in the Willows a unique experience after 20 years.

By Kate Herbert

No comments:

Post a Comment