Wednesday, 5 December 2012

The Wind In The Willows @ The Rep...@ The Crescent Theatre, Tuesday 4th December 2012

With both the new library development and The Rep’s overhaul nearing completion The Birmingham Repertory Theatre decamps to a temporary home again for its traditional Christmas show. Last year their version of The Snowman drifted in to the ICC, this year Toad, Ratty, Badger and Mole invade The Crescent Theatre in Alan Bennett’s adaptation of Wind In The Willows. Happily Bennett’s not messed with the original tail...whoops...tale too much, instead choosing to sprinkle in a few shots of his trademark humour and the odd slightly edgier twist for the grown-ups (who knew badger had a thing for mole eh?).

In line with The Crescent Theatre’s more homespun ethos the set’s a simple but effective affair and the producer’s have eschewed the heavy make-up of some previous productions in favour of a more human look to the characters. The costumes, props and casting help fill in the gaps nicely though with Badger in particular looking the part (nice two tone beard there Mr Pickavance).

 Anyone over the age of 3 will probably know the story off by heart but it never fails to entertain with each character pretty much a gift for any actor. This production’s cast rise to the challenge admirably with some surprisingly strong showings from some of the more minor characters too, notably Chris Nayak’s devastatingly dour Brummie horse Albert (“one carrot and they think you’re anybody’s”) and Michael Hugo’s Manc Weasel (sounding not unlike a slightly more sober Shaun Ryder). Elsewhere Nicholas Prasad nails the timid Mole, Oliver Hembrough is Niven-suave as Ratty and Robert Pickavance treads the fine line between the camp and the cantankerous as Badger.
The Wind In The Willows company

It’s Toad’s show of course and Matthew Douglas channels his best Christopher Biggins and Rik Mayall to achieve the perfect blend of the lovably pompous amphibian careering through life leaving chaos and wreckage in his wake, leaving friends Mole, Badger and Ratty to clear up the mess. Poop poop! Other noteworthy highlights included the neat touch of using the musicians in the show, each dressed in costume by the side of the stage, one of whom played a saw. You don’t get many saw players these days do you? Pretty cutting edge eh? (oh come is panto season after all). The singing puppet baby field mice were also as cute as a...well...sack full of baby field mice, another great example of how something so simple can be most effective.

The whole thing’s a festive family treat from start to finish, with enough humour to keep all ages entertained, even without the aid of the delicious mulled wine in the interval! In fact you’d have to be in a particularly ‘ratty’ mood to leave without a smile on your face.

Wind In The Willows (a Rep production) is on at Crescent Theatre until 19th January.

For further information about the show visit the Rep's website or call 0121 236 4455.
Matthew Douglas as Toad The Wind in the Willows with The REP
Photo by Robert Day

If you enjoyed our review, Poop Poop! Watch out, watch out Toad’s about!

We have 1x family ticket to give away for The Wind In The Willows performance on Thursday 3 January at 7.30pm. What a lovely way to end the kids' Christmas holidays.

To be in with a chance of winning please just email your answer to this question to

We have been so inundated with entries that we have decided to open the competition so more people can enter.

All you have to do is answer the following question and send us your answer by Monday 17th December. Don't miss out......this is definitely one of the best Christmas  shows around.

Which mode of transport does Toad use to race around the countryside?

Is it:

a) A motorbike

b) A motor car

c) A helicopter

P.S. Did you know that....Birmingham Repertory Theatre will be celebrating is 100th birthday in February 2013. Imagine all those great actors and actresses who have treaded their boards.

As part of the plans to mark the landmark anniversary the Rep are asking for local people's treasured memories so as the theatre's not that far away from Bearwood we reckon fellow Bearwoodians will have lots of memories to share.

To collect and record these local memories, staff and volunteers from The REP will be camping out in Centenary Square during the Christmas season in a special REP100 Caravan.

REP100, a project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, will bring to life 100 years of the Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company. At the heart of the project is a new online archive,  which will feature thousands of photos, letters, posters and programmes from past productions and also audio memories from audiences, actors, directors and playwrights

Anyone who can’t make it to the REP100 caravan, but has a story to tell should go to REP 100 website or call 0121 245 2065.

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