Review - The Wind in the Willows at The Core at Corby Cube

The Wind in the Willows
The Wind in the Willows

Synthesisers, sweat bands and stonewashed jeans are not the first thing that come to mind when recalling the literary classic The Wind in the Willows.

And yet they somehow work in this madcap 1980s adaptation of the Edwardian children's novel which is currently playing at The Core in Corby until the end of the year.

Director Jesse Jones has reimagined the riverside tale of Ratty, Mole, Badger, Toad and the Weasels, as a retro caper with an environmental undertone.

The plot remains intact as the anthropomorphic gang try to save arrogant and exuberant Toad from himself and his dangerous hobbies.

Aimed at children aged five and above this is a fun, interactive and frolicking affair kept to a tight 60 minutes.

But there is as much here for the parents as there is for little ones. Whether it is the mention of Bananarama, the furry dice in Toad's sports car or the Duran Duran inspired weasels, there is a whole layer of pop culture references which will keep grownups chuckling throughout.

The frequent musical numbers, heavily reliant on a keyboard synthesiser and electric guitar, keep the eighties alive as does the impeccably sourced wardrobe.

Ratty is decked out in turquoise boots, ripped pink leggings over fishnet tights, a polka dot skirt and a cut off denim jacket. Meanwhile Badger adorns an extremely jazzy black and white checked suit, whilst the weasels are all jeans, white t-shirts and leather jackets.

Played with energy and tongue-in-cheek humour throughout, the cast of seven Bristol-based performers are endearing and entertaining and even throw in the odd Northamptonshire-Leicestershire location based reference.

However the highlight of the show has to be the hilarious song I'm a Toad in a Hole with the inspired lyric "I'm a lonely little sausage in a Yorkshire pudding" as Toad wallows in jail.

This was the favourite song of both me, and my five-year-old son who giggled his way through the whole show.

The only disappointment for him was the lack of a willow tree on stage and I have to agree that the sparse set did perhaps leave a little too much to the imagination.

The environmental message of the play also seemed to get lost in adaptation and ended up feeling rather shoehorned in.

But overall The Wardrobe Ensemble has created a delightful, mischievous caper full of heart-warming laughs and charming melodies.

The Wind in the Willows runs at The Core at Corby Cube until Saturday December 30. Book tickets at www.thecorecorby.com/whats-on/the-wind-in-the-willows/