Alan Bennett's stage adaptation of The Wind in the Willows has become a classic in its own right.
“Believe me, my young friend, there is absolutely nothing half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. In them or out of them, it doesn’t matter. Whether you get away or you don’t, whether you arrive at your destination or whether you never get anywhere at all, you’re always busy.”
Ever since Grahame’s novel was published in 1908 the characters of Ratty, Mole, Toad and Badger have delighted generations of readers. Alan Bennett’s adaptation is both true to the original yet carries the distinctive Bennett hallmark of delightfully witty jokes.
"Alan Bennett's stage adaptation of The Wind in the Willows has become a classic in its own right. If Kenneth Grahame's riverside characters were affectionate portraits of his friends, the enduring appeal of the stage version is that they seem to provide a composite of Bennett. There is Mole, the benign, quiet provincial peering at life through thick spectacles. Then Ratty, the urbane, Oxbridge-educated vole of letters, Badger, a gruff member of the establishment who doesn't like to be disturbed, and Toad, who might be seen as Bennett's wicked side.” Alfred Hickling. The Guardian.
This amateur production of "The Wind in the Willows" (Bennett) was presented by special arrangement with SAMUEL FRENCH LTD.
Review by Barbara Goulden - Elementary What’s On
Kenneth Graham first wrote Wind in the Willows and tales of life on the riverbank in 1908. His story about Ratty, Moley, Badger and the incorrigible Toad didn't need updating...but Alan Bennett did it anyway, first in 1991 and again in 1996. And thanks to Bennett, the story in this dramatised form can be enjoyed by both children and adults, albeit on different levels. At The Criterion in Earlsdon, the kids may miss some of the new subtleties - like the depressed horse (Alan Fenn) announcing all property is theft - but still scream with laughter at the antics of Nicol Cortese as Toad. And what a brilliant, acrobatic, pistol-packing Toad she makes with the stolid support of Matt Sweatman as the reliable Badger with his stout cudgel, not to mention Summer Marsden as timid Mole and Anne-marie Greene (Rat), who arrives on stage steering a very creditable boat made up of two office swivel chairs. I loved the inventiveness of this production, the giant sun and the green mound that opens up into underground homes.
Among the audience was eight-year-old George Leaf who laughed heartily at the rogue Weasels, led by the lavishly-furred Cathryn Bowler, while his younger sister Olivia, aged seven, adored Toad's antics in his cars and caravans...not to mention his spectacular crashes. These were all the more powerful for being heard off-stage. Both children also loved the sneakiness of Toad, the hunt for him among the audience and, needless to say, the fight scenes.
Bennett was sneaky too, introducing his updated cracks about stately homes, the injustice of inherited wealth and even takeaway meals. Although in the wild wood food on the move has a slightly more realistic connotation.
However, please note, no hedgehogs, otters, rabbits, squirrels, fieldmice, foxes, ferrets and stoats were harmed during this colourful, musical production...well hardly any. The bad news is that the play - which is quite long and so perhaps best suited for seven-years up to grandparents - is already a sell-out.Then again, if like Toad, money is no object and you don't mind the phone bill, it might well be worth pestering the box office for cancellations.
Review by Nick Le Mesurier