Wind in the Willows is this year’s Christmas production at the Shakespeare North Playhouse, in Prescot, Merseyside. This wonderful theatre has been open since the summer of 2022 and its main “Cockpit theatre” is designed to replicate a Shakespearean era playhouse and with the action fully in the round.
My children and I love this theatre and have seen a few of their productions to date never failing to be impressed, so it was with much eager anticipation that we went along to enjoy our first taste of Christmas ‘23!
The show runs until Saturday January 13th with tickets available from just £3.00 and is based on Kenneth Graham’s classic children’s tale about Ratty, Mole, Badger and the infamous Mr Toad. So what did we think?
“I loved it! It was funny and engaging to watch. After a few minutes I quickly believed that all the actors really were animals and not just because of the costumes, but because of the way they were played. I also loved the music especially the clarinet and flute. All the characters were amazing, but my favourite was definitely badger because she was super funny to watch, and she played the clarinet and flute brilliantly. I would definitely recommend it as a great family play.” M aged 10.
This production was a modern interpretation of the well loved books. Staging is simple but very effective and the costumes are contemporary but represent the animals beautifully, and indeed in Toads case, with great hilarity too. It isn’t a musical, but there are a few songs and lots of music. All the music is performed on stage, by the actors and using a wide variety of instruments. To me it felt like a fabulous combination of traditional folk and skiffle. There was plenty of involuntary toe tapping and knee drumming going on throughout the audience, which is always a good sign!
The story kept everyone, both young and not so young, engaged for the full 2 hours, (and on the night we attended there were some very young children there). Mr Toad in particular was great at ad-libbing with the audience when appropriate and the fact that it is in the round and actors come and go from all points of the stage meant there was always something different to see.
At a time when climate change, wildlife conservation and mental health are all so important, there was a good moral to the tale and we definitely left the theatre upbeat and with great warmth and affection for the fabulous characters we’d met that evening.
“I loved toad because he was hilarious to watch and had some crazy thoughts. My favourite scene was the fight scene because it looked so real and the way Toad spun two people round was amazing. My favourite character was badger because she was funny , the smartest of all of the characters and had a lot of plans and ideas. Even though I knew nothing about the play and have never read the books I really enjoyed it and thought it was great. It would be amazing for all ages and I would definitely recommend it to anyone.” O aged 10.
So if you are looking for some engaging family theatre this Christmas, with a talented cast and beautiful script, we would thoroughly recommend The Wind in the Willows at Shakespeare North Playhouse.
Karen Beddow founded Mini Travellers in 2014 while doing what she loves most...going on holiday!
Mini Travellers is for parents looking for holiday ideas, destination reviews, days out and things to do with the kids. We also have family travel tips, activity ideas and all other things family holiday related. Take a look at some of our latest reviews for holidays and day trips in the UK.