THEATRE REVIEW: The Wind in The Willows ★★★

The Wind in The Willows
The Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham
Saturday 3rd June 2017

Commissioned with The Everyman Theatre, Box Tale Soup return to tell the tale of Ratty, Mole, Badger and Toad, in a story otherwise known as The Wind in the Willows, personally one of my favourite stories from my childhood and one that I remember seeing many adaptations of from TV, but surprisingly this is the first time I have seen it transferred into a theatrical setting. I have seen an array of Box Tale Soup’s productions in the past, and kept coming back due to the warmth and kindness of the company themselves, and this production of the classic tale continued to show that essence of genuine love for their craft, using puppetry to bring our imaginations to life, and leaving the audience with huge smiles on their faces.

Whilst most of the productions they produce are more aimed at older audiences; Northanger Abbey, Casting the Runes, and ManAlive! To name a few, Willows is very much a children’s tale, and for what may have been to some children their first outing to the theatre aside from pantomimes, it was such a joy to see many of them engrossed in the story of the four friends and their adventures, but that could only have been made possible by the incredible chemistry from the actors on stage; regulars Antonia Christophers and Noel Bryne, but also for the first production that I have witnessed him from the company, Mark Collier, who also directed this production. Collier felt like such a breath of fresh air and brought so much energy to his various roles in the story, really pushing the full throttle of the story along with the equally talented and engaging Chambers and Bryne.

Once again, and coming as no surprise considering their previous outings, the hand-made puppets were absolutely beautiful and crafted with so much thought and care, especially Toad, who mist have towered around 5ft, and with thanks to the whole cast on stage was maneuvered with such grace, really bringing the character to life. The use of head props for transport was also an extremely clever idea, especially the train sequence which involved such braces as tracks, really proving the imagination from the whole company, and the original music composed by Dan Melrose was incredibly upbeat and beautiful at points, which at times had myself tap my feet along with toad during his songs.

Overall, The Wind in The Willows is a beautiful tale brought to life by the this incredible company who never fail to leave me inspired for puppetry and their passion as a company, and for what may be for some children the first experience of being in a theatre setting, this is a perfect introduction, filled with constant heart and warmth throughout!


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