Re-posted from Noah’s blog My Screen Notebook
Having watched a local production of “The Wind in the Willows”, from Creation Theatre, I felt there was a review in it:
It’s convenient for a production from Creation Theatre that “The Wind in the Willows” is so creative. This co-production between Cherwell Theatre Company and Creation Theatre takes a small space in Banbury and makes it shine. Housed at The Mill Arts Centre, in the cold month of December, is a play that brims with life, warmth and joy. I’ve never seen The Mill so full of set, props and the hustle and bustle of actors. “The Wind in the Willows” makes excellent use of a thrust stage, immersing the audience within the performance; allowing them to engage fully with the energy that radiates from every inch of it. Combining multi rolling techniques, imaginative use of set and props, song, projection and even shadow puppets means that this production stands out from any other choice of expressive art the Banbury area has to offer this Christmas. In fact, it’s the best thing I can remember seeing at the Mill. But, perhaps that’s just the nice, new comfy seats talking.
For “The Wind in the Willows” Creation Theatre has joined forces with Cherwell Theatre Company, meaning that, along with brilliant professional actors, is a group of talented teenagers. James Burton gives a wonderfully camp and eccentric performance as the infamous toad of toad hall; Ben Whitehead mumbles and dithers with great ease and comic ability; Sophie Greenham’s wide mouthed, bemused expressions as Mole, work brilliantly with Stephanie Lee’s uptight, water loving Rat. And Cherwell Theatre Company’s young cast blend in perfectly, bringing as much enthusiasm, energy and quality as their adult co-stars.
Spread over the stage is a treasure trove of suitcases, wooden boxes, random assortments of nick-nacks and brick-a-brack and even the odd army helmet and bugle. And each and every one of these items is taken and used as something else, contributing to an imaginative performance on every level. It’s clear that “The Wind in the Willows” wants to come out from the boundaries of the stage and take a look at you: it fills all the available space, surrounding those with table seating on all sides and reaches up high to the ceiling. The result of this is a play the whole family can enjoy.
Having read book “The Wind in the Willows” as a child, I had since forgotten what the main overarching plot consisted of. I only remembered the collection of over the top characters. So, watching this reimagining of the classic tale means that this is now the only version of “The Wind in the Willows” I can recall, and it seems that is a fitting thing. For, in a strange way, I don’t know whether the other version would bring so much joy to the faces of people young and old. Maybe the original book could, but it wouldn’t compare to a cosy Christmas, family play. So, I do urge you all to take a break from your busy Christmas schedules of present buying, sitting down by the fire or watching the latest offering of festive television, to instead pop down to The Mill Arts Centre for a dolloping of fun, that just so happens to be something everyone in the family can enjoy.