Some of you may know that I am a great fan of the children’s theatre “The Polka” in south west London. I use to go there as a child, and since having my own children we have already been many times and have enjoyed pretty much all of the performances (there was only one, that my then 4yrs old thought was “boring”, but he had been to see it with nursery already). So when I saw that the classic Wind in The Willows was being showing, I knew I really wanted to take the kids. I am glad we went.. but there are a few “buts”.
- Including 15min interval 2 hours
- 5yrs – 7yrs (there are “watch with babies” performances when you can take younger ones)
- Based on the classic children’s book by Kenneth Grahame
Synopsis: The scene is set by the river, in the wild woods and toad hall. We have four friends Ratty, Mole, Toad and Badger. There is something special about these animals – they can talk. And increasingly they are “taking on the ways” of humans. Ratty has a wonderful boat (with spoons as oars) and loves taking his friend Mole out and about. Toad, actually thinks he is human and is forever seeking out the latest humanly acquisition – be it a caravan pulled by a poor weasel or a new motor car. As it turns out this behaviour gets the animals into some trouble. There are woodland creatures that see the problems that this is causing and strife ensues. You can hear the Wind in the Willows, which is always a bad sign. What will happen in the fight between our Friends and the Woodland creatures?
I would say that his is “proper theatre” for kids. A fantastic way to get them into plays and drama. The costumes and stage are imaginative and also require a little imagination from the children (for example in our Peppa Pig Review you will see, that though the production is fantastic, it was much easier for kids to watch as everything was presented for them – less left to the imagination, but that is fine, as it is targeted at younger children). For example, the play is set through out a year and we watch the four seasons change through song and little changes made to a branch on stage (an icicle for winter, blossoms for spring, green leaves for summer and brown leaves for Autumn). The costumes of the four friends are based on caps and tails – and not more (so it took my little ones a brief instance to “get it”) etc.
There was fun “interaction with the audience” without it being too much. The kids loved it.
As mentioned in the Synopsis, the subject matter is serious – so there are lots of dark and slightly frightening scenes – the Wild Wooders make scary noises and attack etc. BUT this IS a show aimed at 5yrs + and we DID go with 2 almost 5yrs olds and 2 3yrs olds. The boys (the 5yrs olds) LOVED it. It was a TINY bit long for them. But they loved “being scared”, they “loved the fighting” and laughed at the jokes. My 3yrs old did enjoy the play and was quite enthralled. However the 4th child with us, was a little spooked. But understandably – the play wasn’t aimed at her. She still managed to see most of it (with some breaks outside to regain courage – and she even laughed at a couple of places.
My other big but, is cost – the tickets have gone up to £16 per head (though there are saver tickets of £10 if you book early). Making this a very expensive family outing. In future, I will be trying to only get the cheaper tickets as £16 really was quite hard to swallow. But I understand that the theatre is a charity and needs to keep afloat to continue providing us with such an amazing set of children’s plays.
And the final one – is that it was a tiny bit long. But the kids managed.
For more, check out Wind in the Willows Behind the Scenes:
Would my husband have enjoyed it? I think he would have. But at £16 per ticket we didn’t take him!
Did the kids at the theatre enjoy it? The 2 five year olds LOVED it.
Likeability of characters – 8/ 10 (great set of characters, well acted. Personally, Ratty was my favourite)
General story line – 9/10 (dark and exciting – only for older kids really)
The Ending – 9/10 (the “right” sort of ending)
Overall – very good children’s theatre. Though do stick to the age recommendations and don’t expect too much from younger children!