Brighton Fringe 2018
Join Mole, Ratty, Badger, and Toad, as they go adventuring in the Wild Wood and beyond. A wonderful new adaptation of a classic tale with a charming new score, puppetry, and brilliant storytelling for all the family.
Adaptations of existing works are never easy. Lovers of literature are oftentimes a purist bunch. For centuries writers, producers, directors, and performers have attempted to find a new way of looking at a popular text, viewing it from a new angle, and bringing it to a new audience – with varying levels of success. Classic tales of every genre have been re-imagined, re-designed, and re-worked, translated into other languages and even re-created in hitherto unexpected ways. It can be an interesting journey from the publisher to the playwright and onward to the performance, especially when tackling the beloved stories of our youth. Box Tale Soup though are no strangers to these kinds of adaptations having themselves been down this road before with their own productions of Northanger Abbey, Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, and even Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, all of which were highly praised by critics and audiences alike. But it is rare to find such a completely compelling and wonderfully whimsical production as this rendering of The Wind In The Willows.
“I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.”
– David Bowie
From the moment we walk into the theatre we are greeted with a plethora of colourful distractions. Puppets peek at us from all areas of the stage while simple scenery sets the mood. Excited patrons of all ages chattering and laughing in joyous expectation of what’s ahead. Our minds reaching back to the book, the radio broadcast, or perhaps the movie which introduced us to Mole, Ratty, Badger, and the ever mischievous Mr. Toad. For me it was the book which I was introduced to at a very early age having a chapter a night read out loud before bedtime. Later I would listen to the audio book and see the movie, but it is the brilliant writing of Kenneth Grahame which stole my heart and inspired me as a child. It’s a high bar, I’ll admit. But Box Tale Soup are champion pole vaulters and easily equal my expectations.
The Fringe is home to an eclectic array of venues and spaces, from bars and restaurants to churches and chapels, with boulevards and box trucks thrown in for good measure. The Warren’s own collection is also home to an inflatable big top of sorts which at first glance is an interesting choice for a production like this but we are easily transported away from the sultry heat of the south coast to the shady cool of the river bank and the historic haughtiness of Toad Hall.
The storytelling is spot-on with the three performers finding a lovely balance for all the audience from the youngest to the most experienced. Our fears that as adults this show could be childish or soporific were instantly quelled and we were whisked away on the adventure alongside the children and the performers. Puppets and props were seamlessly integrated and we found ourselves at the conclusion without noticing the time pass by. The story, accompanied by a lovely original score and songs, swept us up in a whimsical reverie of times past.
“Let us never know what old age is. Let us know the happiness time brings, not count the years.” – Ausonius
With so many offerings in the festival it can be difficult to choose where to lay your hat or, perhaps, sling your hook, but this is a production that deserves the effort to seek it out. Quite simply one of the most charming and entertaining afternoons I’ve spent at the Fringe. Don’t miss it.