Edinburgh Fringe 2010
Kenneth Grahame’s classic children’s novel brought to the stage in an accessible rendition from Not Cricket Productions
Kenneth Grahame’s classic children’s book is regularly brought to the Edinburgh Fringe. A real test up here is whether it can capture the attention of today’s younger generation and stay faithful to the book’s magical qualities at the same time. Many versions fail to find the essence that has given the story its longevity and bring it successfully into a realised theatrical production.
Not Quite Cricket have, I am glad to say, succeeded in this task and added a few twists of their own without in any way spoiling the original. Badger is our narrator and he tells the tale in a way that makes it accessible from the start. All of the four main characters are played well, with care and attention to each’s unique animal-human characteristics (from dress to facial expressions and vocal interpretation) and with a warmth that pervades the original. Yes, we’re here, and though the wild wood plays little part, the riverbank is brought to life (with an innovative boat!).
Toad is a particular highlight and not played as if copying every film or TV version but is a personal interpretation well realised, ably supported by the well rendered Rat, Mole and Badger.
The music is perfect for the style of production, strongly sung and nicely eclectic. The riverbank is evoked in a youthful production, strong on energy and character acting, a bit lacking in tightness. And the magical style of Grahame’s text is faithfully protected. Toad in his car is really fun and well done. And a big thumbs up for singing to acoustic accompaniment without microphones.