I’ll put it out there, never read The Wind in the Willows. Had no idea what it was about, didn’t do any research, just felt like letting the magic happen. (What? I didn’t read too much as a child…)
The Australian Shakespeare Company is putting on a series of family friendly shows over the summer. The ‘The Wind In The Willows‘, ‘As You Like It‘, and ‘Alice In Never Neverland‘ are being held in the splendid surrounds of the Royal Botanical Gardens, whilst ‘Caribbean Pirates‘ is going to play out aboard old faithful herself, the Polly Woodside. (We loved our previous experience there!)
Waggle your ears, wiggle your nose, and sing whispering willows…
I went along to the 6pm show on a sunny Melbourne evening. The cast, as expected, is top notch and very entertaining. I don’t think there was a kid in the audience who wasn’t giggling themselves senseless. There’s plenty of laughs in there for the grownup kids too.
I loved Ben Noble’s Winston Churchill-esque portrayal of Badger. I’m not sure if this is how the original is meant to be as the book was written in 1908 (okay, I’ve done my research now!) and Churchill surely didn’t become famous until he sent the ANZACs to their peril in WWI (see, I know things…).
Nevertheless, it gave me a lot of joy to see him command the troops as they stormed Toad Hall to reclaim it from the weasels. My god, if someone else had written this review and I hadn’t read the book I would swear the reviewer was on some sort of acid trip.
There is one short location change during the play and the kids get to run off to find Portley, the little otter (see acid trip). Don’t worry, they come back, and again the smiles on their faces when they do is heartwarming.
Take a picnic and a group of friends. But be careful — the head rabbit likes to run around and eat stuff. Seriously, he ate someone’s sandwich and another person’s sushi…admittedly it was the dinnertime show. Needless to say I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, it’s a pretty unique way to spend a couple of hours!
The Royal Shakespeare Company’s ‘The Wind in the Willows’
DATES: 27 December 2014 to 24 January 2015
WHEN: at 10.30am and 6pm from Tuesday to Saturday
WHERE: Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne – enter via Gate F on Birdwood Avenue
PRICES: Single tickets, $25; Family of four (1 ticket admits four people of any age) $90