The ‘Wind in the Willows’ Concludes a Very Special Year of Drama at RGS
An outstanding and enjoyable year for RGS Drama has ended in fitting style with the Lower and Middle School production of ‘The Wind in the Willows’. On a beautiful summer’s evening, with the School’s gardens in full bloom, Kenneth Grahame’s timeless evocation of the English countryside seemed to be the perfect play to be going to see. And this certainly proved to be a hugely enjoyable, entertaining and imaginatively conceived performance. This is, of course, the turn of the School’s younger performers to shine and show what they can do. They did so in splendid style. It was also delightful to see so many younger children in the audience, all of whom were clearly delighted by their evening in the theatre. This is a great family show, full of humour, wit and fun.
What tremendous talent there is in Years Eight and Nine. Strong ensemble acting has been a real feature of recent productions and this entire cast combined superbly in several busy, lively and dynamic scenes. The final battle, in which Badger, Mole, Toad and Ratty take on the weasels, was wonderfully choreographed and the idea of the fate of Toad Hall being decided by a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors, accompanied by the raucous sound of The Arctic Monkeys had everyone smiling. There was a great blend of inventive film backdrop and well-chosen music throughout. Another delightful scene was Toad’s first spin in his new car: this again was superbly choreographed and full of energy and invention and . . . well . . . imaginatively used umbrellas!
The characters of Mole, Ratty and Badger were conveyed brilliantly by Laurence Curtis, Verity Bond Evans and Thomas Pound. Each actor brought to life their character’s distinctive personality, whether it was Badger’s good-natured gruffness, Ratty’s loyalty and amicable spirit or Mole’s bewildered innocence. The power of friendship is, of course, at the heart of Grahame’s book and this was wonderfully and poignantly evoked by the main cast.
Mention must go to the Riverbankers who did so much to give the production its liveliness and humour. A special mention too for the weasel gang, who prowled the stage like something out of Peaky Blinders, only with less blood and more jokes. They delivered some very funny gags with real comic instinct and timing, Nell Nicholls leading them with aplomb. On such an enjoyable night, particular praise must be given to Bruno Bond Evans who brought Toad marvellously to life. He was magnificently foppish, endearing and daft in equal measure. Some of Toad’s language (his absurd and pompous rhetoric) must be fiendishly difficult to deliver and Bruno did it impeccably. A lot is expected of the actor playing Toad, and most actors will tell you that comedy is far more difficult than just about anything else. For such a young performer to deliver so well in this role was hugely impressive.
Although we didn’t see them on stage on the night, the work of the backstage crew deserves enormous praise. The costumes and make-up were great, the lighting and sound effects never less than spot on. And how wonderful to see a list of Assistant Directors comprised of pupils in the Lower Sixth helping, supporting and nurturing their fellow younger actors. That tells you an awful about the culture of support and collaboration the RGS Drama Department has fostered.
Enormous congratulations are due to Mr Garrity for this, his first RGS production. It was such a well-judged and well-chosen play and a perfect end to a very special year of drama at RGS.
Mr Nicholas Philips, Head of English