The Killing of Mr Toad
From: Sunday, 19th April 2009
To: Monday, 4 May 2009
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The Killing of Mr Toad revisits a timeless classic and the extraordinary story behind it. 1934. Elspeth Grahame, elderly widow of Kenneth Grahame, lives alone, rarely washing, barely eating. When she receives flowers from a young fan of The Wind in the Willows, memories flood in and the familiar characters of Toad, Badger, Rat and Mole appear - to perform a musical entertainment in honour of their creator, laying bare the tragicomedy of their real-life counterparts: the shy, retiring Kenneth Grahame, who was both Secretary of the Bank of England and a successful author; Elspeth, an eccentric socialite; and their bumptious only son - who became the prototype for Toad. This rich and unusual play begins as a celebration of a famous book, but becomes a hard-hitting story of a dysfunctional family, unrealistic parental ambitions and teenage breakdown - as the author who delighted so many children is unable to save his own doomed son.
21 April 2009
For most people the mention of Kenneth Grahame’s timeless classic The Wind in the Willows evokes warm childhood recollections of gentle bedtime stories. Furry animals whiling away their days on rivers and a flamboyant, mischievous toad causing regular mayhem.
Few, however, are aware of the extraordinary tale behind this much-celebrated book and it's this that is the subject of David Gooderson’s The Killing of Mr Toad. The opening scene introduces Grahame’s widow, Elspeth. Living alone, she barely eats and barely washes, spending her days reminiscing, taking delivery of letters and gifts from admirers of her late husband’s work and talking to his photograph.
Her wandering thoughts soon translate into a full-blown musical celebration of The Wind in the Willows, its four principal characters expertly portrayed by the male members of the company. Animals then morph into humans as the story of the Grahames’ meeting, court...
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