Creation Theatre Company
01865 766266 or at
3rd Floor, Cherwell House, 1-5 London Place, Oxford, OX4 1BD.
The Wind in the Willows, 5th December 2014 to 10th January
Toad hasn’t been seen since the most recent of his escapades backfired, Badger doesn’t react well to visitors in the winter and Ratty and Mole have tucked themselves away eating sardines and telling tales of sunnier days. How will we drive the wild-wooders back where they belong? Warm your feet by the fire, toast yourself a crumpet and let us thrill you with the daring adventures of Mr Toad, as his friends try to put him off his latest scheme while the seasons turn on the riverbank. This year, we return to the North Wall to transform it into the banks of the bubbling Thames, country inns and the open road as we bring Kenneth Grahame’s family classic to life with music, fun and laughter.
North Wall Arts Centre (www.thenorthwall.org), South Parade, Oxford, OX2 7NN.
For more details
see Creation's web site at www.creationtheatre.co.uk.
Reviews of The Wind in the Willows
5th December 2014 to 10th January 2015.
Review from the Newbury Weekly News.
Feisty young company
Wind in the Willows, at the North Wall, Oxford, until January 10
Kenneth Grahame's Wind in the Willows, adapted and directed by Gari Jones, is this year's festive offering from Creation Theatre Company. The moment you enter the auditorium with the staging sideways on, taking in the balcony, you are struck by the detailed beauty of a twig-strewn set (design, Ryan Dawson Laight). Pitted walls of a faded, disused theatre are transformed into Toad Hall and an open wooden box becomes a river boat while an animated projection conjures up the river bank.
The next thing you notice is the detail that Laight has put into the costumes. Tennis shoes surreally conjure up the long ears of a hare and a dustbin lid morphs into the steering wheel of a car. There's nothing scary for children, so even the battle at Toad Hall that ends the play is played out with comically silly kitchen and bathroom implements as weapons.
The casting is almost designed to send a message to funders about gender parity. Usually acted by a cast of middle-aged men, all the professionals are young, with half the performers women. Ratty (Georgina Strawson) and Mole (Claire Andreadis) are now female creatures, but are obvious representatives of the cosy middle classes. Their animalness is as quaintly portrayed as their counterpoints in Winnie the Pooh or the Narnia stories. They form a feisty little gang with the grouchy, podgy badger (Thomas Richardson, wearing a heavy sack for his belly), the loner from the Wild Wood, and Toad (Will Norris), the arriviste pop star crooning away centre stage to numbers that would embarrass any boy band.
Whether it is Toad dressing up as a colourfully-attired washerwoman as part of his prison break, or the weasels with their urban youth patois, English attitudes to class are ridiculed. This is because, in a framing device, Wind in the Willows is being staged by a group of young people who have broken in to the theatre and are being playful with Grahame's text. It's probably a complication too far for most audiences who will just enjoy the ride into the Wild Wood and along the river bank.
There is a review from Daily Info ("the Riverbank went urban; imagine (if you can) Shoreditch hipster meets Tooting massive... the actors, uniformly good, demonstrated awe-inspiring versatility... an excellent alternative to pre-Christmas panto").
Macbeth, 1st August to 13th September 2014. See the review in the archive.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, 6th December 2013 to 4th January 2014. See the review in the archive.
Henry V, 17th August to 14th September 2013. See the review in the archive.
Jekyll & Hyde, 8th June to 6th July 2013. See the review in the archive.
Aladdin and the Magical Lamp, 6th December 2012 to 5th January 2013. See the review in the archive.
The Merchant of Venice, 7th July to 1st September 2012
Richard II, 7th May 2012
The Odyssey, 29th March to 28th April 2012
Hamlet, 5th to 24th March 2012
A Christmas Carol, 8th December 2011 to 7th January 2012. There are reviews in the Oxford Times ("backing up all this ensemble acting is some very strong staging... fine show") and Daily Info ("a flawless performance... one of the most enjoyable shows of this year; don’t miss out on a night full of merriment and Christmas cheer! ").
Antony and Cleopatra, 8th July to 3rd September 2011. See the review in the archive.
King James Bible, 14th May to 11th June 2011 at St Barnabas Church
Dr Faustus, 4th February to 2nd April 2011 at Blackwell's Bookshop
Rapunzel, 26th November 2010 to 15th January 2011. See the review in the archive.
Romeo and Juliet, 19th July to 31st August 2010, at Said Business School Amphitheatre, Oxford
Beauty and the Beast, 27th November 2009 to 16th January 2010. See the review in the archive.
Twelfth Night (July 2009)
A Midsummer Night's Dream, 4th July to 13th September 2008
Othello (April 2009)
Hans Christian Andersen's Magical Tales (December 2008)
Animal Farm, 21st July to 30th August 2008
The Taming of the Shrew, 16th July to 25th August 2007
Hamlet, 1st June to 28th July 2007
Macbeth, 2nd June to 9th September 2006 at Headington Hill Park
Saints and Sinners (June 2008)
Much Ado About Nothing (June 2008)
Measure for Measure (March 2008)
Tales from the Brothers Grimm (November 2007)
The Oxford Passion (August 2007)
Arabian Nights (November 2006)
Robin Hood (July 2006)
The Merchant of Venice (June 2006)
King Lear (February 2006)
The Snow Queen (November 2005)
A Midsummer Night's Dream (July 2005)
The Comedy of Errors (January 2005)
A Christmas Carol (November 2004)
Romeo and Juliet (July 2004)
Much Ado About Nothing (June 2004)
The Winter's Tale (February 2004)
The Tempest (July 2003)
Twelfth Night (June 2003)
A Midsummer Night's Dream (June 2002)
Romeo and Juliet, and As You Like It (July 2001)