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Wind in the Willows (Derby)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Motorcar obsessed Toad is in a hole and it takes his trio of furry friends to get the aristocratic amphibian out of it again. Kenneth Grahame’s classic children’s story is given a faithful rendering by director Hannah Chissick in Derby Theatre’s entrancing Christmas production.

Sean McKenzie’s bumptious Toad soon tires of the riverbank idyll enjoyed by his friends Ratty and Mole and yearns for the open road. He commissions a Gipsy caravan and takes them on his travels but an altercation with a new fangled motor car ends with the caravan in a ditch and Toad with a new motorised infatuation. However, his love for speed ends in him stealing a car belonging to his arch-enemies the Weasels and a lengthy spell behind bars.

Sprung from gaol by a washer-woman he is reunited with his friends, including the wise old Badger. Together they set about recapturing our hero’s beloved Toad Hall which had been taken over by the Weasels.

Whatsonstage “Best Actor in a Musical” nominee James Love plays the lovable and innocent Mole alongside Peter Caulfield’s sharply attired Ratty with Jack Chissick a stern but benevolent Badger. They are joined by Martyn Dempsey and Laura Checkley who take all the other parts between them and a gaggle of Derby Youth Theatre members as assorted rabbits and weasels.

They all mess about quite happily in boats, motor cars, the Gypsy caravan, a canal barge and steam train not to mention a creepily scary Wild Woods, which had the family audience jumping in their seats, in Designer Philip Whitcomb’s beautifully realised sets.

A cracking show which should weasily satisfy the most discerning family audiences over Christmas and the New Year.

Nick Brunger


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