By Alan Davies
Sunday, December 16, 2012
A PRODUCTION of The Wind in The Willows opens at the Barn Theatre in Welwyn Garden City this week.
A LOCAL landowner has been sentenced to one year in jail for speeding in Handside Lane, Welwyn Garden City, and to a further 19 years for calling the magistrate “Big Nose”.
When contacted Mr Toad, of Toad Hall, The River Bank, refused to comment, simply saying “Poop, poop” to our reporter.
There are hopes, however, that he will be released on parole in time to appear in the Barn Theatre’s Christmas production of The Wind in the Willows.
The dramatisation of Kenneth Grahame’s classic tale of riverbank animals opens on Friday, December 21 and runs until Monday, December 31, with both evening and matinee performances on various tea.
In The Wind in the Willows, Toad finds himself in prison and manages to escape, but not before Toad Hall, his pride and joy, has been overrun by the wicked weasels.
The play by Alan Bennett is a real family treat. Directed by Keith Thompson, there are four main characters – Mole (Adam Dryer), Ratty (Michael Hammond), Badger (John Davies) and Toad (Graham Kilner).
The villains of the story are the chief Weasel and the inhabitants of the Wild Woods, whom Ratty described as “you can’t really trust them”.
The gaoler’s daughter, and the only major human being in this animal world, becomes a heroine as she helps Toad escape from prison.
Grahame’s book is now 105 years old and has been reprinted 31 times.
There have been numerous stage, musicals, film, television, radio and sequels produced, with the list of actors in these productions including Michael Palin and, in another performance, Richard Briers as Ratty, Michael Gambon as Badger, Alan Bennett as Mole and Rik Mayall as Toad.
One of the first plays was that of A.A. Milne, author of Winnie the Pooh, who dramatised it as Toad of Toad Hall.
Alan Bennett updated the dialogue and made it much funnier and more appealing to adults and children.
This is the version that was a hit at the National Theatre and the one Keith Thompson has chosen to direct at the Barn Theatre in Handside Lane.
Further investigation has revealed that tickets for The Wind in the Willows at the Barn are available from 01707 324300 or online at www.barntheatre.co.uk
Tickets cost £10, and £7 for club members on the first Friday.