The Wind in the Willows at The Lowry, Salford
Poop Poop! Who remembers Kenneth Grahame’s classic tale, The Wind in the Willows, from their childhood days? I’ve no doubt many primary teachers tried to introduce me to this classic text, but somehow, it passed me by. Arriving to see The Wind in the Willows at The Lowry, Salford on Press Night, John and I tried to recall a story famous to us only by name.
Brought to life by producer Jamie Hendry, writer Julian Fellow, composer George Stiles and lyricist Anthony Drewe, we discovered the tale to twee, heartwarming and alive with song,. We’re happy to say The Wind in the Willows has survived the transition from childhood to adulthood and is a treat from start to finish.
The Wind in the Willows at The Lowry, Salford, begins along the riverbank and the grand sound of the orchestra signals the introduction of the opening song, ‘Spring’. We are introduced to Mole first, as the music gradually builds to reveal a cast of anthropomorphic animals busily preparing for spring. Alongside the riverbank set design, it can only be described as mesmerizing.
The Wind in the Willows is a tale of unlikely friendship between Rat, Mole, Badger and Toad. When the story begins, Mole (a solitary character) is bored of spring cleaning and ventures out onto the riverbank where he meets Rat. ‘Ratty’ is a good soul and shows Mole the ways of the river. The two become good friends and Ratty takes Mole to meet his friend, Toad, who is wealthy and likes to have a good time. A rich playboy, Toad decides he must own a motorcar. This ultimately leads to Toad’s imprisonment, whilst Ratty and Mole decide to seek the help from Badger. The story unfolds to deliver lessons in morality whilst tugging on the heartstrings.
What is intriguing is how costume designer, Peter McKintosh, is able to convey the creature through the use of simplistic costume. Most obviously, Toad, always attired in green or golden scales. Cleverly, the sly weasels of the tale dressed like gangsters with only their ears poking out of their hat to betray their animal tendencies.
Fra Fee as Mole and Thomas Howes as Ratty are endearing as their friendships grows alongside the story. Neil McDermott, famed for his television roles, is fantastic as Chief Weasel, leading his woodland pack of weasels, foxes and stoats to take over Toad Hall, whilst Toad is unfairly imprisoned for driving offences.
The show is recommended for children and adults alike, although it may not be suitable for children younger than 6. Badger’s language, in certain parts, is antiquated for the purpose of adding to his upper class character. In addition, the show is relatively long: roughly an hour on each side, with a twenty minute interval in between.
Overall, we found the show thoroughly enjoyable and left the theatre feeling uplifted and singing the catchy songs. It was definitely a date night to remember!
Have you seen The Wind in the Willows? What did you think?
Our tickets were provided complimentary for review purposes. However, the show is at The Lowry until 6th November, tickets can be purchased here. Readers in and around Southampton can catch the show from the 10th November.