Tales from the riverbank at the Abbey Theatre

Wind in the Willows

Wind in the Willows - Credit: Archant

Kenneth Grahame’s enduring tale of Mole, Ratty, Badger, Mr Toad, and their many friends comes to the Abbey Theatre this Christmas.

Wind in the Willows

Wind in the Willows - Credit: Archant

The stage version of The Wind in the Willows, by Alan Bennett, with additional lyrics and music by Jeremy Sams, caused a popular sensation when it first appeared at The National Theatre in 1990. It has since become a classic in its own right.

Packed with comedy and songs, and with added incidental music by Emma Barry, the show tells the tale of the shy young Mole who is introduced to the joys of the riverbank by the enthusiastic Ratty. He then meets the ebulliant and reckless Mr Toad, and is propelled into a series of adventures, including fast cars and a prison break, ending with an exciting battle to take back Toad Hall.

First published in 1908, The Wind in the Willows was originally a bedtime story for Grahame’s young son, Alastair, and based on his childhood memories of growing up close to the River Thames, at Cookham Dean, Berkshire.

Derek Coe, who plays Ratty, has his own fond childhood memories of holidays spent with his grandfather in Shotley Bridge, Durham. “We fished for minnows, collected frog spawn and generally enjoyed messing about on the riverbank. He was in his seventies then, and much to my surprise, I’ve now reached that age and am playing Ratty, showing an eager young Mole the delights of the riverbank.”

Judy Jacques, who plays the washerwoman and various small animals, still cherishes her copy of The Wind in the Willows, complete with her attempts to embellish the illustrations with watercolours. For Andrew Baird and Lianne Weidmann, who play Mr Toad and Mole respectively, as children the book was a little daunting. Lianne’s perception of the story was turned on its head when she saw a production of the Bennett version in 2015.

Director, Katherine Barry commented: “The show has a broad appeal, and directing it has been a joy from start to finish. It has been very rewarding working with a cast of both adults and children, though sometimes you can forget which is which.”

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Performances take place on the Abbey Theatre main stage at 7.30pm next Friday, December 16, at 2.30pm and 5.30pm on Saturday and Sunday, December 17 and 18, and on Tuesday, December 27 and at 7.30pm on from Tuesday, December 20, to Thursday, December 22, and from Wednesday, December 28 to Friday, December 30.

To book tickets click here or call the box office on 01727 857861.