The Wind in the Willows
Botanical Gardens Gate F, until Jan 29, 2011
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Jan 4, 2011
It’s that time of the summer again when all good little rabbits must picnic by the big river and go on an adventure into the Wild Wood with the madcap British characters from Kenneth Graham’s inspired children’s books.
The Wind in the Willows is back at the Botanical Gardens and, this year, we enjoyed it on a mild summer’s morning with birdsong and even the odd wildlife roaming across the grassy performance area.
Is the kiddy component of the audience getting younger? They all looked about 3 this time.
This summer production began in 1988 and casting alters yearly. However, the engaging Roscoe Mathers is clocking up decades as Head Chief Rabbit. His cheeky banter with Robert Jackson, the sleazy Weasel, elicits giggles from all ages, and their music encourages everyone to sing along to, “Waggle your ears, wiggle your nose”, and other perky songs.
The egocentric Mr. Toad, played as a toffy twit by Andrew Dunne, lives at lavish Toad Hall and is obsessed with boats, fast cars and boy-toys. It’s like an episode of Top Gear.
David Gould takes advantage of his basso profundo voice to play the gruff, know-all Badger. Cheery Ratty (David Bailiht) loves a picnic and introduces shy Mole (Michelle Hall) to Toad. Playful Otter (Callan Lewis) and, Portly (Dominic Hook), his fearless son, complete Toad’s gang.
There is never a dull moment as Toad falls out of his boat, careers into a policeman in his prized jeep, goes to court and is imprisoned by Weasel who invades Toad Hall with his wicked weasel family (including Natasha Stoat Despoja and Evil Kn-Weasel).
The kids go hunting in the Wild Wood for lost little Portly while Mathers and Jackson entertain the parents with endless bad puns and improvisation off the script. Wear a hat, take a rug and snacks and sing along.
By Kate Herbert