Every summer the Australian Shakespeare Company holds a show at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Melbourne. The summer months in Melbourne are (slight exaggeration) generally warm throughout the evenings and sitting outside in a beautiful park, while snacking, having a drink, and watching a troupe of talented actors spout off classic works is a brilliant way to spend a summer evening. While the Australian Shakespeare Company have chosen to perform Macbeth this summer, they have also put on an absolutely delightful rendition of The Wind in the Willows. This is a lovely performance, fantastic for children and just as entertaining for adults.
Nestled deep within the Botanic Gardens, guests are encouraged to spread out picnic blankets and snack on whatever treats they’ve brought along. Perched beside a picturesque lake, with the resident ducks bobbing up and out of the water, the stage is well and truly set for the classic that is The Wind in the Willows.
The performance is a fantastic take on the well known book – written and performed in a way hat pays tribute to the original, covering all elements that are important – but also creating a show that is truly interactive for the setting and the audience that it’s performing to. Children are encouraged to sing along, to dance and, even at one stage, to run off on an adventure through the gardens with some of the cast members. The entire thing is a lot of fun – even as an adult. While it could be said that it is primarily a children’s show, there are many almost meta moments throughout, some great jokes that adults will appreciate along with some fantastic versions of popular songs – definitely moments that are geared towards the adults in the audience.
The cast are very impressive – more so when you think about the fact that they have probably performed this same piece multiple times already this summer – and yet can still muster the same enthusiasm and energy to entertain children. Special mention must go to Ryan Hawke in the role of Mr Toad – who seems to relish the part if his over the top and excited performance was anything to go by.
The Wind in the Willows is a definite must for January – especially if you have younger children or even a younger relative – it’s a great evening out for kids, something that gives them the chance to participate and practically be part of the performance. Just be prepared for the fact that they will probably be repeating the songs they remember as loud as possible on the trip home – but, in the end, definitely worth the risk.
The Wind in the Willows is showing from 20th December 2018 to the 27th January 2019. Tickets can be purchased via the Australian Shakespeare Company website.