Review: The Australian Shakespeare Company’s ‘The Wind in the Willows’

6 years ago
Aidan Johnson

This year marks the 28th production of the Australian Shakespeare Company’s The Wind in the Willows, a fantastic interactive adaptation of the classic Kenneth Grahame tale, ideal for all the family to watch. And those adults who are secretly children at heart. It is energetic, engaging, and definitely worthy of the 28th year of its performance in the park, with great direction from Otis Elston.

The actors are everything you could want for a children’s performance. They are dynamic, carrying the performance amazingly, bringing their characters to life in typical pantomime fashion – with enough flair and pizazz to make the audiences laugh heartily. Mr Toad’s antics on and off the road; the pomposity of Mr Badger; the amusing Australian antics of the Head Chief Rabbits (with the audience as the other rabbits); the dubious but hilarious acts of the Weasel; are all light-hearted and perfect for the performance. Their interactions with the audience are also enjoyable and lively, with a little fourth wall breaking thrown in for the adults there.

Rabbit (Roscoe Mathers), Ratty (Leigh Piper), Toad (Ryan Hawke), Portly (Dante Arestia), Badger (Ben Noble) and Weasel (Paul Morris). Photo credit: MattDeller


Aside from the sea of puns, there is enough humour in the performance to keep all the audience engaged. The kids are amused by Mr Toad’s antics as he leapt around on a motor car, but his enthusiasm is fantastic enough to bring the adults into the show. The humour and entire play relies on strong audience participation – which fortunately is forthcoming in abundance (as can be expected from kids).

The props and make up are fantastic. Brightly coloured costumes were the call of the day, with funky hats and brightly coloured coat tails suitable for the pantomime. The costumes match the energy of the performance, but also are reminiscent of 19th Century British country life. The look is combined with a variety of different accents (including a faintly German police officer cum judge), all of which were highly engaging. The music was also enjoyable, and added a playful element to the performance.

Ultimately, the Wind in the Willows is a great show for the whole family, especially for kids – and those who are young at heart.

Check out more about the Wind in the Willows and buy tickets here.

Head Chief Rabbit (Roscoe Mathers), Toad (Ryan Hawke) and Ratty (Leigh Piper). Photo credit: Matt Deller
Head Chief Rabbit (Roscoe Mathers), Toad (Ryan Hawke) and Ratty (Leigh Piper). Photo credit: Matt Deller

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