Review: The Wind in the Willows at The Lowry
Four stars out of five
Although generally considered a children’s classic Manchester Library Theatre Company’s production of The Wind in the Willows brought out the adult humour of Alan Bennett’s adaptation. From the outset the audience supplied constant bouts of laughter and interestingly adults, not children, dominated the majority of this audience.
The play centers on Toad of Toad Hall and his caravan journey along the river bank. This ends with him being arrested and incarcerated before battling to regain his manor house. Throughout the performance the company successfully integrated the use of music into the drama meaning that the music actively enhanced aspects of the acting.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the performance however was the use of stage-craft throughout. The way the company performed Toad’s caravan journey was particularly skillful. The use of moving images of countryside scenes projected onto the back wall created a feeling of motion, successfully creating the impression of a journey. This was then furthered by the actors’ use of physical theatre throughout the journey. At one point Mole, Rat and Albert the donkey together mimed walking, completely in time, which looked visually striking and conveyed the movement of the journey without needing any elaborate stage movements.
There were at times moments of over-acting as some characters, mole in particular, seemed hyperbolic and exaggerated. However perhaps this is the effect of watching a play which caters for children from an adult’s perspective. In that, perhaps the exaggeration of the characters is perfect for children but seems more noticeable to adults watching the performance. In fact, the way in which the play serves for both children and adults is perhaps the biggest part of its charm. Whilst the ending brings about a sense of resolution which makes it a truly ‘feel good’ performance.
The Wind in the Willows runs at The Lowry until Saturday 14th January.
Student tickets are available from £12.50.