Edinburgh Fringe 2009
Cambridge University ADC bring a reasonably faithful rendition of the classic children”s tale, with female weasels, much humour and inventive set and props and a few lively chase seems
There’s a charm to this production right from the start and a sense of relief as the Mole and the Rat step into the scene – here we have a Wind in the Willows that hasn’t been Disney-fied or CBBC’d. Colour, but not garish sets, the soft pastel shades that evoke the River, and a neat gender twist with nasty but not too unloveable Weasels open up the vista on the tale of a Toad in search of the ultimate thrill and of a Mole who seeks adventure but also misses the certainties of a cosy home under the earth.
For a university production a lot has gone into this version – the sets are impressive, Toad’s motor car a particular highlight, but also lighting and sound add to the visual impressiveness.
Performances are mostly strong and though Mole is a little too soprano, he is also played with just the right amount of innocence and strength of character. In Toad we have a lot of energy and physical eruption in a rather too close homage to Hugh Laurie. Badger is suitably gruff, and the Rat is pitch-perfect.
The script is mostly faithfu with a few modern references. I did find the sight of a group of animals attempting to enslave a horse a bit of a misread of the book’s original intention, but mostly the chase scenes were just right to keep the toddlers in the audience engaged. The play moved along at a decent pace and the final battle scene at Toad Hall was well choreographed and engaging.
Overall, an enjoyable version of a classic story.