Writer: Kenneth Grahame
Adapter: Glyn Maxwell
Director: Alex Clifton
Reviewer: Steve Davies
Kenneth Grahame’s 1908 story of four animal friends and their adventures has seen many adaptations. It tells the tale of Mole leaving home and meeting up with Rat, Toad and Badger. Their adventures include picnics, riverboat rides, a visit to Toad Hall and an unfortunate car journey. The Open Air Theatre in Grosvenor Park is an ideal venue for families to enjoy this summery tale, and with the sun shining down, a picnic devoured and an ice cream in hand what better way to enjoy the theatre.
Jessica Curtis’s design is simple yet effective, allowing clear sight lines for every member of the audience in the round. The furniture is used to created and facilitate set changes with great fluidity by the company, however some of the animals are not immediately recognisable in their human form. The actors address this with their skilful ‘animal-acting’. Although this is truly an ensemble piece, Alix Ross’s portrayal of Mole is both endearing and humorous, while Daniel Goode’s energetic Toad provides many of the laughs. The cleverly staged motorcar scene is a delight and brings a smile to the audience, particularly the younger members. The riverboat capsizing sees the cast floating across the stage, with drifting props and floating debris while Mole clinging to a piece of wood as she bobs around is just perfect.
This adaptation manages to make good use of the venue’s location by referencing the park as well as city locations. The local birdsong from the park also adds to the special countryside feel of the production.
This company are also performing Romeo and Juliet as well as The Merry Wives of Windsor in rep with Wind In The Willows, this year’s season has clearly catered for everyone this summer summer.
Runs until 23rd August| Photo: Mark Carline