THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS
Adapted with original songs by Peter Austin
from the story by Kenneth Grahame
Waterfront Theatre, Granville Island
It’s hard to judge from my position pretty high up on the age ladder, but I think Carousel’s The Wind in the Willows is a great show for the eight to ten year-old crowd. If I were five, I’m not sure there would be enough action in it to keep me occupied, even for the slight hour the show lasts. The fairly sophisticated dialogue with English accents would mostly fly right over my little head. If I were 12 or 13, I think I’d find it all pretty childish.
At any age, I’d want more of that cool dancing and tumbling, and the fighting between the forces of Mole, Ratty, Badger and Toad and those evil weasels (who don’t actually look anything like weasels—and anyway, says my inner little kid, what’s a weasel?). I’d want to see a lot more of Mike Rinaldi’s amazing rubber-legged stuff as Mole. He and Toby Berner’s charming Ratty make a cute couple, Ratty in his sailor suit and elegant pencil-thin moustache. Josh Drebit’s Toad is sufficiently wacky but, like, why did he steal a car??
The songs Peter Austin adds to his adaptation of the classic Kenneth Grahame story are lots of fun. Even more fun is the dancing—especially the lovely chaos in the courtroom that up-ends the legal formalities (choreography by Melissa Young). But sound designer Alison Jenkins’ recorded music shouldn’t be so muddy.
Adult me really liked Lance Cardinal’s pretty cardboard cut-out, English water-coloury set design, Barbara Clayden’s exaggerated Edwardian costumes—particularly Toad’s plaid splendour—and Melody Anderson’s white masks on the authority figures: the judge and her clerk and the cop. Adult me wanted more of Gerry Mackay’s Badger, the adult-responsibility figure, and more of the female presence (Corina Akeson and Emma Slipp appear mostly behind masks).
Adult me says nice job, director Chris McGregor. No relation, I hope, to Peter Rabbit’s nemesis!