The Wind in the Willows

The Pumphouse / Lake Pupuke, Auckland

15/01/2008 - 26/01/2008

Production Details

Back by popular demand, Tim Bray Productions’ children’s theatre show, The Wind In The Willows, takes place in and on Takapuna’s Lake Pupuke during January 2008.

The Wind In The Willows opens on Monday 14 January and runs until Saturday 26 January.

This enchanting production, adapted from Kenneth Grahame’s classic children’s tale, takes place in the natural surroundings around The PumpHouse, Takapuna and the audience follows the adventures of Toad, Mole, Ratty, Otter and Badger as they move around the locations of Killarney Park and Lake Pupuke.

"We first did this outdoor production of The Wind in the Willows in September 2005 and we’ve been asked numerous times to do it again," producer Tim Bray says. "The location is fantastic and really brings the story to life with plenty of surprises."

During the play the children interact with the story’s characters as they try to find the perfect spot for a picnic, laugh at Toad’s obsession with the motorcar, and then help them rid Toad Hall of the nasty Weasels.

The Wind In The Willows is the first in a series of professional children’s theatre productions presented by Tim Bray Productions in 2008. Roald Dahl’s The Twits will feature in the April school holidays.

Monday 14 January 7.00pm
Prizes & giveaways. Drinks & nibbles

Tuesday 15 January – Saturday 26 January 2008
10:30am and 12:30pm daily

All $17.90 each, Family Concession (4 tickets): $65.00
Gala Tickets: $19.90 each

Phone and Counter Sales
10am – 2pm Tuesday to Fridays only. Phone 09-489-8360
Website Bookings: via website
Please note: A booking fee will apply to all ticket sales

Monday 26 February – Friday 7 March
Discounted tickets for school and pre-school groups
Free teachers’ Resource Guide
Free tickets for teachers – one free per 20 children
Phone 360-2265 or email for more info and bookings  

The play features:   
Margaret Bremner as Mole 
Madeleine Lynch as Ratty
Brad Hills as Badger
Adam Burrell as Toad
Sam Berkley as Otter 

Quietly distinctive slick family theatre

Review by Nik Smythe 16th Jan 2008

A well-known story in an unusual outdoor setting where the audience is required to literally follow the action around on foot makes for an experience both familiar and unique.

The actual story contains a basic plot thread in which Ratty and Mole plan to have a picnic and are actively determining the best spot to have it.  This creates the justification for the cast to relocate each scene, and the audience with them, to a different picturesque location around the grounds of Lake Pupuke (and in one scene even in it), thus most effectively utilising a stage area of virtually unlimited depth. 

The simplistic premise also provides room to input a number of key subplots from the well known tale, in particular Toad’s dangerous love affair with the motorcar (a brand new Daihatsu no less!), and his enmity with the ill-mannered weasels when they overrun Toad Hall.

The performances are roundly excellent; the essential lead role played by Adam Burrell with all due self-centred impudence, and irascible energy to spare.  Having read the book and seen a number of screen renditions, it occurs to me that Toad of Toad Hall is one of those ubiquitous sorts of characters with little room for creative interpretation … not unlike Santa Claus from Bray’s Christmas production, although the characters themselves are diametric opposites.  Toad is a bloated, obnoxious, unremorseful thrill-seeker in whom no complexity or consideration should be detectable, else it isn’t Toad.

The main supporting cast are big on manic energy and slapstick charm.  Ratty (Madeleine Lynch) is something of a highly strung fall-guy, in contrast to Margaret Bremner’s affable Mole, the idiot savant, cowardly but loyal.  Brad Hills as Badger is a gruff, grandfatherly Scotsman with a potentially violent undercurrent. 

Fresh from December’s Santa Claus Show, the skilful, busy Sam Berkley whips up a veritable smorgasbord of slapstick in three contrasting roles as the friendly otter, the stern copper and the smarmy impertinent head weasel, the latter backed up by sneering lesser weasels as played by the stage managers, Alana Tisdall and Tama Jarman.

The costume design of Chantelle Gerrard and Sara Kolijn, which is splendid early 20th century British attire for the most part, along with Mem Bourke’s abstractly representational makeup artistry, combine to serve the characterisations excellently.  Toad’s green gullet-driven features are particularly impressive, and the only seemingly ‘unpolished’ costumes were the weasels with the droopy noses and the Just-William style schoolboy outfits. 

Dedicating The Wind in the Willows to his late English nana, director/script adaptor Tim Bray has once again captivated the attention of young and old alike with his quietly distinctive style of slick family theatre. 


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