The Wind in the Willows
By Kenneth Grahame
Adapted for the stage by Alan Bennett
The Lowry, 6 December 2011
Bennett’s adaptation is, on the whole, bright and cheery though slivers of darkness do creep in.
Overall, it presents an enchanting vision of Edwardian England, a land where riverbank creatures have spiffing adventures. Children of all ages will love the knockabout humour, the amiable atmosphere of pals off on adventures and having friendly fun. The play is transporting and there’s also some fantastic transportation on show: a boat, a car and a steam train, all brightly coloured and of a large scale.
For grownups there’s the game of ‘spot the pastiche’, with the odd homage paid to, say, Churchill (in Robert Calvert’s performance of Badger) and Boris Johnson (Paul Barnhill’s Toad). And there’s the very real, not to say aching nostalgia for childhood and friendships never quite to be found again. I’m guessing as well that Jason Furnival’s jobsworthy horse, name of Albert, should also keep the adults amused – as it did me.
The Wind in the Willows is a magical Christmas show with a slue of sparkling performances and, as well as the colourful costumes and set, there was a clever use of video to convey motion and to bring about a change of scene. The stage is a machine, as Gerald Raunig points out.
The Wind in the Willows is at The Lowry until 14 January 2012, and further details can be found here.
And if you’d like to ‘suck it and see’, a three-minute trailer of The Wind in the Willows is now available on You Tube. To view it, click here.