Wind in the Willows

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Thursday on reflection turned out to be a day of memories revisited as after my fun at the media museum in the afternoon playing Galaxian the evening saw me head down the West Yorkshire Playhouse for the annual visit to the Christmas production, which this year was Wind in the Willows.  It’s very much become a tradition now for us to go to the Christmas show and we have all been thoroughly entertained with some brilliant performances over the last few years.  I’m not much of a theatre goer but must admit that every time I do go there is an immediacy to it which I really enjoy and I must make more of an effort to investigate what’s going on.  I think that the Christmas show holds a special magic however in that it normally takes a book or film that we remember experiencing as children, and have no doubt passed on to our own children, and transforming what we therefore know and love into a magically stage experience.  I’m always interested in the different classics that are chosen and find it particularly interesting when, as this year, they are bringing a book to the stage rather than a musical film such as Annie or the Wizard of Oz.

The main theatre at the playhouse also holds a special memory for us as a few years ago when the Wizard of Oz was on I and some friends managed to bump into the Wicked Witch in a bar.  She kindly met us and our families the next day when we were due to attend and gave us a tour of all the costumes and behind the scenes sets and much to the kids delight let them stand on the revolving stage.  It made a huge impression and really added something to be sitting in the audience a few hours later watching the performance.

We all still remember this and are always looking at how the stage now works, the sets, the costumes, how many different parts each of the actors or actresses might be playing – things that we perhaps would not have known about had we not been given a bit of inside knowledge by that actress.

The current production of Wind in the Willows has been adapted for stage from Kenneth Grahame’s classic novel by Alan Bennett so I was fairly sure the dialogue was going to be crisp and funny and we were not disappointed but the characters and costumes were simply fantastic.  We all actually had different favourites but mine I think was Ratty who was brought into raffish life by Jack Lord.  I was surprised at first by there being no orchestra pit but soon realised why as most of the characters actually play various instruments throughout the performance which, allied with the amazing movement and choreography throughout, supported the script beautifully.  I did at one point think that things were perhaps moving a little slowly but then reminded myself that that is how things are down by the riverbank pootling along and watching the world go by.

Overall it was a highly original and entertaining performance that thoroughly brought the book to life and was a delight to behold enchanting young and old alike and surely that is what Christmas should be about.  The performance runs till January 19 so if you have not been along I’d thoroughly recommend it, what a good start it would be to the New Year.

.Mr Toad

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