The Wind in the Willows review at Sherman Theatre, Cardiff – ‘imaginative retelling’
Toad Hall is up for auction in Mike Kenny’s adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows. Like Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, a trip to the dilapidated and ivy-invaded house is the catalyst for the riverbank animals reliving episodes from the now long-passed days of Toad and his motorcar.
In keeping with the Sherman Theatre’s recent family shows, The Hunting of the Snark and The Borrowers, Lee Lyford’s production embraces traditional, pre-iPad approaches to storytelling. It maintains the quieter, reflective elements of the original, but retains the attention of the children watching.
Conor Mitchell’s folk-inspired score is performed live on stage, and there’s little here (excluding a very funny remote-controlled car chase) that didn’t exist in Grahame’s day.
Hannah McPake is excellent in children’s entertainer mode, capturing the quirks of endless anthropomorphised animals. Highlights include a waddling duck dance, a snorting, stroppy horse and a squeaky-voiced schoolboy hedgehog. Dominic Rye is similarly amusing as the awfully, awfully upper-class Ratty, pitched between an Edwardian gent and a modern moustachioed hipster.
Largely the opposite of a pantomime in tone and style, this Christmas staging of a children’s classic is as charming and calming as an evening stroll along the riverside.