Wind In The Willows: January 2008

Red Spider Company could have been forgiven for resting on its laurels after Like A Buoy but, instead, not only did it take up the challenge of staging its first ever full-length production without a professional director, but it also made it’s very first move into the genre of Christmas entertainment. We were treated to a real pantomime horse and a delightfully seductive villain to hiss and boo – but this was not pantomime; no, the delights of this superb dramatisation, by Steve Eaton Evans, of Kenneth Graham’s Wind in the Willows were altogether more gentle and subtle.

They say that you should avoid acting with children and animals but, defiantly, this production had plenty of both. Yes, I know that Mole, Ratty, Badger and Toad were in reality grown up human beings, but the characterisations were so convincing that it was wonderfully easy to believe we really were on the riverbank or in the wild wood of our childhood imagination and the deception was aided by the clever use of quite simple but convincing props and stunning scenery.

With so many fine characterisations and cameo performances woven together under the confident direction of Susanne Clayton – who somehow also managed to shine as the fearsome Fenella Ferret – I am reluctant to single out any one player; but on this occasion there is no other option. The finely polished interpretation of Toad by Rosa Watkinson, who never stopped manipulating both the other animals and the audience, was utterly convincing; that swagger, those gestures, that voice, those myriad expressive grimaces. She whacked us and whacked us. Poop, poop!

Images from the stage and behind the scenes.
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