The play tells the story of Mole, Ratty, Mr Toad, and Mrs Badger (yes, Badger is a Mrs in this production), and their woodland and riverbank acquaintances. It is people dressed as animals. The music is provided on stage by Mrs Otter, Mr Rabbit, and Mr Fox, and there are hedgehogs, rabbits, and weasels played by junior cast members.
|Credit: York Theatre Royal|
The play takes the form of a re-telling of how Toad Hall got into its current state, and Mole and the gang go through the boating, carting, and motor car adventures and escapades that got Mr Toad into so much trouble, and Toad Hall into a ruin of its former glory.
It needs some imagination as props are used to tell the story, such as a rotating plank for the boat, and a wheeled sofa for a motor car (poop poop!) and younger children might have a hard time working out what is going on. For older fans familiar or not with The Wind in the Willows, it is a fun, imaginative play with brilliant character actors, wonderful costumes, and a whimsical set.
Before the performance and during the interval, we were allowed on stage, and backstage. The backstage area has been set up to depict the homes of Mole, Ratty, and Mrs Badger, and you can have a snoop around their cosy homes, and sit in their chairs, or in Ratty’s rowing boat. It really helps bring the story to life for younger fans.
|On the stage at York Theatre Royal|
|In Ratty’s rowing boat|
During the performance, the characters come out and interact with the audience. York Theatre Royal is an old, intimate venue, and the full venue is used to effect. Expect Mole to pop up behind you, or the rabbits to take a run past. The cricket match during the interval was a lot of fun.
The play is funny, but there’s nothing that’s unsuitable for children particularly. I highly recommend this performance for fans of The Wind in the Willows, and for children aged from around 6 upwards.
My six-year old says….
“My favourite part was when the animals started singing Christmas carols. At the interval we went back stage and looked in the little cottages. The main characters were Mrs Badger, Moley, Ratty, Mr Toad, Chief Weasel, and the animals.”
For tickets, please visit York Theatre Royal‘s website
Running time – 105 mins + a 20 minute interval
Disclosure – we were given press tickets to be able to review this performance