REVIEW: The Wind in the Willows

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The cast of Chapterhouse Theatre Company's 2017 touring show, The Wind in the willows.

A CLASSIC English country house, naturally, seems like the obvious backdrop for a classic children’s tale like The Wind in the Willows.

And the National Trust’s Charlecote Park on the banks of the River Avon, through Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon, was just one of the many historic stops for Chapterhouse Theatre Company‘s summer tour.

And let me tell you, it was up there among the highlights of my family’s summer.

After what felt like weeks of non-stop rain, we, along with hundreds of others, enjoyed the perfect night watching the cast hilariously bring Kenneth Grahame’s story to life.

I have a admission to make. I’ve never read The Wind in the Willows, or at least I don’t remember doing so, and didn’t really know the detail of the story.

This 90-minute performance of 110-year-old story, to me, was family entertainment at its best. There was panto-esque slapstick for the children alongside poignant undertones for the adults.

And Toad, probably not surprisingly, stole the show, his shouts of ‘poo’ will be echoing around the 200-acre, 16th century estate for days to come.

Stratford is, of course, a hub for British theatre, and for all the pomp that comes with the Royal Shakespeare Company, it can be refreshing to go back to basics.

Chapterhouse do just that. Their cast of just eight on the night, with their modestly-sized flat-pack stage and set, was grassroots theatre in its rawest form. But they still packed them into Charlecote.

The weather Gods behaved themselves for show number 35 of the company’s 36-date tour, from Hopetoun House in Edinburgh back on 16th July, and finishing at Hotel Endsleigh in Tavistock later today.

Chapterhouse say they will be back on the road in 2018 – do not miss it!

Review by Chris Smith