Journeying through a willow ‘river’, audiences enter the magical world of Kenneth Grahame’s riverbank.
Inventive use of withies places Somerset’s stamp on the tale, cleverly woven into boat, cart, or barge. A huge sheaf of reeds hugs a wooden stairway/platform, composite set for Robert Miles’ engaging adaptation. Ambient lighting and effects magically mark the changing seasons as Mole abandons spring cleaning for the delights of the river.
In a mid-1930s age of swing, composer Nick Brace sets the story squarely in period, live music and song forwarding action. Inspiring young imaginations, woodland animals wear 30s suits, faces lightly daubed with colour, while Toad sports stylish green plus fours.
Written and created in-house, this imaginative ensemble production moves at pace. The four main characters retain Grahame’s original values as they adapt to a changing world. A relaxed and generous creature, Matt Bannister’s Ratty introduces Alex Gartshore’s timid and myopic Mole to the pleasures of boating. Boastful expert at escaping tight situations, Fred Broom plays Toad with huge energy. Flamboyantly in character and with beautifully imaginative hands, he moves at speed. Versatile Trevor A Toussaint’s warm-hearted Badger is a cornerstone of the production, supported by a chorus of delightful young woodland animals.