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The Wind in the Willows

Published Monday 26 November 2012 at 09:50 by Susan Elkin

It isn’t easy to pare The Wind in the Willows down to six actor size. Toby Hulse’s imaginative reworking with Martin Ward’s evocative music and, above all, Liz Cooke’s ingenious, three-tier riverside set complete with lots of traps, ensure that it all works well. The giant soup spoons as oars are delightful and the way the caravan emerges is such a good idea you wish you’d thought of it yourself.

Ailsa Joy is a charismatic actor who brings exactly the right wide-eyed, naivety to Mole and then develops her into a brave stalwart friend. Phil Yarrow gives us a loveable, peaceable Ratty and Nick Ash plays Badger as an imposing basso profundo with a hint of The Mikado being imperious. Robert Saunders has oodles of stage presence as Toad and is funny enough to cover his weak singing.

The enjoyable charm-laden show includes some fine harmony singing especially between Joy and Yarrow with high quality support from Kanga Tanikye-Buah and Arran Glass in various minor roles. The staging of Toad’s crazy drive with projection behind, silent film music and various characters floating past is a witty climax to the first half and, later, the busy choreography of the big fight scene at Toad Hall makes good use of a small cast and space.

Production information

Polka Theatre, London, November 23-February 16

Jonathan Lloyd
Toby Hulse, Kenneth Grahame (adaptation)
Polka Theatre
Nick Ash, Arran Glass, Ailsa Joy, Robert Saunders, Kanga Tanikye-Buah, Phil Yarrow
Running time:

Production information displayed was believed correct at time of review. Information may change over the run of the show.

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Run sheet

King's Head, Islington London
January 24-February 15 2014