The new touring production for family audiences by Cambridge Touring Theatre is a much tauter and more focused show than those of the last couple of years. Kenneth Grahame’s Edwardian classic children’s story has been perkily dramatised by Barry Evans; his lyrics are catchily set bySimon Humphreys and have the audience joining in enthusiastically – with all the appropriate actions.
Elizabeth Glass’ costumes are bright with a nice blend of Edwardian smartness and the downright brash. There’s no attempt to anthropomorphise the characters, though their natures are subtly suggested through accessories, such as Mole thick-rimmed spectacles and Toad’s embonpoint. Boxes and rostra are moved around to become boats, caravans, cars and anything else the action requires.
[Alex Wadham’s Ratty sports theproper boating gear and has an engaging duet “Friendship” with Steve Wickenden’s Mole, gifted with a slightly Midlands twang as well as an immaculate tail-coat in brightest blue. James Franklin’s Badger is an old colonial military type, drilling his somewhat Dad’s Army troop as they set off into the Wild Wood to take back Toad Hall, that commodious gentleman’s residence temporarily suffering musteline squatting.