The Wind in the Willows - KXT On Broadway (NSW)
Alan Bennett's adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s book. Presented by Stacks On Theatre Co. Directed by James Raggatt.
Reviewed by Juliana Payne
KXT Broadway, Ultimo
8th - 23rd December, 2023
A joyous romp just in time for the holidays that is sure to be fun for the whole family
The Wind in the Willows had never popped up in my childhood reading stack (I was more of a sci-fi kid) but when I saw it was Alan Bennett’s adaptation, I had to see it. What has become called ‘a classic tale’ written in the 1950s is brought to life by Stacks On Theatre Co, and they tackle it with a delightful blend of wit, charm, and energy. This theatrical rendition offers a gritty, yet whimsical, journey into the world of Mole, Ratty, Toad, and Badger.
There’s a lot of fun with creative props (think canvas river) and vivid visuals (think Toad splattered on a wall). The costumes are like kids gone mad with the dress-up box, which just adds to the fun. It removes it from the quintessentially Englishness of the original and helps to make the characters more accessible and relatable. Toad’s hands are hilarious. The camaraderie between the animal characters is both heartwarming and entertaining. Alan Bennett's script captures the essence of Kenneth Grahame's story, beloved of many people over the years, retaining its ‘traditional values’ while infusing it with a fresh language and comical episodes that young people will enjoy. The dialogue is witty, filled with Bennett's signature humour, and will engage both young and adult audiences.
The Wind in the Willows at KXT on Broadway. Images provided by Stacks On Theatre Co
The cast brings the iconic characters to life with bags of energy and enthusiasm: with a cast of thousands - Michael Doris, Lachlan Stevenson, Elyse Phelan, James Raggatt, Miranda Daughtry, Ross Walker, Joseph Raggatt, Georgia Blizzard, Harlee Timms, Michael Cecere and Jack Richardson - there’s never a dull moment.
Bennett's adaptation incorporates subtle contemporary references, so if you didn’t know anything about the original you wouldn’t be missing anything. The story operates on timeless themes, and that’s probably why it continues to appeal to all sorts of people. Friendship, loneliness, trust, growth, and all’s well that ends well.
This is a light and bubbly alternative to the standard cheesy Christmas junk that people endure year after year at pantos and the cinema. Take the kids to a little island of innocent fun away from the real world for a while.
Director James Raggatt
Cast Michael Doris, Lachlan Stevenson, Elyse Phelan, James Raggatt, Miranda Daughtry, Ross Walker, Joseph Raggatt, Georgia Blizzard, Harlee Timms, Michael Cecere and Jack Richardson
Lighting Design Saint Clair
Costume Design Isabella Holder
Set Design & Construction Lachlan Stevenson & James Raggatt