The Wind in the Willows

Date 27th November 2019
Society Actonians Drama Group
Venue Iron Acton Village Hall
Type of Production Play
Director Sue Anstey
Musical Director Rob Pardoe
Choreographer -
Producer Sue Anstey

Report

Author: Dee Way for Debi Weaver

This adaptation is very good in clearly drawing the characters involved in the story and underlining the conflicts that arise as Toad goes from one passion to the next.  On this the first night of the show, all of these issues were handled really well.  The direction of the play was both inventive and very well planned. The action was spread well across the stage are and scene changes were very well handled by the crew. The various animals formed very distinct and believable characters, especially the rabbits with their carrots! 

The set design was most ingenious.  The creation of the river and riverbank were very well done, with the river being the space between the stage edge and the rostra.  Hence Ratty was able to appear in a boat and the boat scenes later in the play were all the more convincing. Ratty's home, with a veranda, worked extremely well throughout the play, while Mole's home was dull and rather restricted by comparison, just as it should be. The presentation of Toad Hall was slightly disappointing, but Toad's passions: the caravan, car and railway engine, were very well done.

The music both as background and as song accompaniment, formed an integral part of the production and to very good effect, with the piano played off-stage.  The sound was well cued and of a suitable level throughout.  The lighting was exceptionally good, with subtle changes, good colour and excellent timing.  The costumes were superb, with lots of detailing, ears on headbands and great colours, while the make-up was wonderful in giving the animals snouts and black noses while not hiding the facial expressions.  

However, it was the actors who created the riverbank and its characters so well. Ratty was a very convincing character, with the balance of friendliness and demanding just right.  Mole very quickly created a very warm hearted character once other characters appeared. The contrast between these two was very well maintained and created some lovely conversations.  Toad formed a wonderfully self-serving character, with his false modesty and rampaging obsessions! Badger was nicely played with a more moderate character who could empathise with Toad to some degree.   Albert the horse was a wonderful character with his complaints about life and a very good accent. The Weasels were wonderfully street wise and nasty, as were the ferrets and the fox. However, it was the whole cast, working together who brought the story so vividly to life.  Together with the excellent scenery, lighting, costumes and inventiveness, everyone played their part to excellent effect, and created a very entertaining production.