Thursday, 28 December 2017

The Wind in the Willows, Dec 27, 2017 ****

Adapted by Glenn Elston from book by Kenneth Grahame
By Australian Shakespeare Company
At Botanical Gardens, Gate F, until Jan 28, 2017 
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Review also published in Herald Sun Arts online on Dec 28, 2017 & in print on Dec 29, 2017.KH

The Wind in the Willows - Doru Sorcel as Badger and Paul Morris as Weasel - pic Paul Fon
Grab a picnic basket, a rug, hat and sunscreen and toddle off with the toddlers to the Botanical Gardens for another cheery, jaunty performance of The Wind in the Willows, adapted from Kenneth Grahame’s very English, 1908 children’s book.

The kiddie-rabbits giggle and shout at the cheerful, nose-twitching Head Chief Rabbit (Scott Mackenzie) trading insults, songs and silly puns with Weasel (Paul Morris), but the kids may be equally diverted by rambling water birds, a duck waddling across the lawn, or a dragonfly cruising by.

The children hoot at the characters’ antics, join a picnic, go on an adventure, then on a dangerous mission with the Rat Pack and Badger Patrol to rescue little Portly the Otter (Dusty Bursill) from the scary, Wild Wood.

In Otis Elston’s production, the kids enthusiastically sing ‘waggle your ears, wiggle your nose,’ and the inimitable ‘Quack quack quackady-quack’, and shout ‘He’s behind you!’ in best panto style.

Morris is the hilariously sneaky, gravel-voiced and wicked Weasel who overruns Toad Hall with his rascally weasel family, takes Mr. Toad (Ryan Hawke) hostage and fights dirty with enormous water pistols filled with ‘weasel wee’.

The merrily likeable Mackenzie maintains crowd control, leads songs and provides breezy guitar accompaniment.

In his gaudy green and pink outfit, Hawke is the flamboyant, vain and plump poseur, Mr. Toad, who behaves like a bratty, British, entitled twit whose head is turned by every new fad from canoeing to motorcars.

Playing the remaining, goofy characters are Kaya Byrne as river-dwelling Ratty, Chloe Bruer-Jones as timid Mole, Doru Surcel as toffy, pompous Badger and Jolan Walker as Otter, a Policeman and a dodgy Judge.

Willows has been a Melbourne summer institution now for 31 years so, if you’ve been hiding indoors for 31 summers, get out now with the family and ‘waggle your ears, wiggle your nose and sing whispering willows.’

By Kate Herbert 
The Wind in the Willows - Doru Sorcel a Badger with 'Badger Patrol'

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