Muddy reviews: The Wind and the Willows

While Lady Muddy Surrey was off having a pre-Crimbo, er, meeting with all the other regional Muddy Stilettos editors on Friday, Mr Muddy Surrey took the mudlets off to see The Wind and the Willows at the Rose Theatre in Kingston.

I don’t let just anyone loose on the blog, but Mr Muddy is a serious journo, usually writing quite serious stuff for quite serious publications. And given I was in the land of the original Muddy – Bucks and Oxon – which is nowhere near Kingston, and, ok, let’s be honest, just a tiny bit tiddled by the time the show started, I figured it was probably okay to give him a go at Muddy.

Here’s what he has to say about The Wind and the Willows. Thanks Mr Muddy… 

The Wind in the Willows at the Rose Theatre By Kenneth Grahame Adapted and directed by Ciaran McConville Director Ciaran McConville Set & Projection Designer Timothy Bird Lyricist/Composer and Musical Director Eamonn OíDwyer Choreographer/Movement Director Jamie Neale Lighting Designer Aideen Malone Costume Designer Peter Todd Sound Designer Leigh Davies Fight Director Lyndall Grant Fight Assistant Alice Cavanagh Choreographer/Movement Director Assistant Katy Stephens Voice Coach Yvonne Morley Cast Jamie Baughan Joy Brook Derek Elroy Gary Mitchinson Emma Pollenate Michael Taibi

Moley, Ratty, Badger and, of course, Toad. Can there be any more loved characters in the history of fiction?

All four and more (there’s a cast of 29) have been brought to life by director Ciaran McConville in this new adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s 1908 book, which is on throughout the Christmas period at Kingston’s Rose Theatre.

From the moment Mole awakens determined to find adventure to the quick-witted Ratty and the brash and larger-than-life Toad we are treated to a collection of familiar characters who are full of warmth, charisma and a fair few laughs.

We have to wait a little while to be introduced to wise, old Badger. But bit-by-bit the famous old story of friendship and rivalry develops with the help of three narrators.

The Wind in the Willows at the Rose Theatre By Kenneth Grahame Adapted and directed by Ciaran McConville Director Ciaran McConville Set & Projection Designer Timothy Bird Lyricist/Composer and Musical Director Eamonn OíDwyer Choreographer/Movement Director Jamie Neale Lighting Designer Aideen Malone Costume Designer Peter Todd Sound Designer Leigh Davies Fight Director Lyndall Grant Fight Assistant Alice Cavanagh Choreographer/Movement Director Assistant Katy Stephens Voice Coach Yvonne Morley Cast Jamie Baughan Joy Brook Derek Elroy Gary Mitchinson Emma Pollenate Michael Taibi

From summer-days messing about in boats on the banks of the Thames, to Toad’s automobile addiction and the dark and sinister Wild Woods in winter.

The climax is, of course, the battle for Toad Hall.

The Wind in the Willows at the Rose Theatre By Kenneth Grahame Adapted and directed by Ciaran McConville Director Ciaran McConville Set & Projection Designer Timothy Bird Lyricist/Composer and Musical Director Eamonn OíDwyer Choreographer/Movement Director Jamie Neale Lighting Designer Aideen Malone Costume Designer Peter Todd Sound Designer Leigh Davies Fight Director Lyndall Grant Fight Assistant Alice Cavanagh Choreographer/Movement Director Assistant Katy Stephens Voice Coach Yvonne Morley Cast Jamie Baughan Joy Brook Derek Elroy Gary Mitchinson Emma Pollenate Michael Taibi

The main characters are played by professional actors with Jamie Baughan as Toad, Derek Elroy as Badger, Gary Mitchinson as Mole, Emma Pallant as Ratty and Michael Taibi as the blood-thirsty Stoat. All play the characters with aplomb, but my personal favourite has to be Elroy as the patriarchal Badger.

But perhaps some of the most heart-warming and comic scenes are played by the supporting cast supplied by the Rose Youth Theatre.

The Wind in the Willows at the Rose Theatre By Kenneth Grahame Adapted and directed by Ciaran McConville Director Ciaran McConville Set & Projection Designer Timothy Bird Lyricist/Composer and Musical Director Eamonn OíDwyer Choreographer/Movement Director Jamie Neale Lighting Designer Aideen Malone Costume Designer Peter Todd Sound Designer Leigh Davies Fight Director Lyndall Grant Fight Assistant Alice Cavanagh Choreographer/Movement Director Assistant Katy Stephens Voice Coach Yvonne Morley Cast Jamie Baughan Joy Brook Derek Elroy Gary Mitchinson Emma Pollenate Michael Taibi

There are two different casts that rotate. I saw the red team which has Amelie Abbott playing Doris Dormouse exquisitely, while Oliver Smith’s portrayal of Chief Weasel is at times menacing and at others funny.

If you are looking for a festive fun for all the family, The Wind in the Willows is a good bet.

The Wind in the Willows at the Rose Theatre By Kenneth Grahame Adapted and directed by Ciaran McConville Director Ciaran McConville Set & Projection Designer Timothy Bird Lyricist/Composer and Musical Director Eamonn OíDwyer Choreographer/Movement Director Jamie Neale Lighting Designer Aideen Malone Costume Designer Peter Todd Sound Designer Leigh Davies Fight Director Lyndall Grant Fight Assistant Alice Cavanagh Choreographer/Movement Director Assistant Katy Stephens Voice Coach Yvonne Morley Cast Jamie Baughan Joy Brook Derek Elroy Gary Mitchinson Emma Pollenate Michael Taibi

The Wind and the Willows is on until Tues 3 January, Rose Theatre, 24-26 High Street, Kingston, KT1 1HL. Tel: 020 8174 0090.  rosetheatrekingston.org

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