Review of The Wind in the Willows
A temporary shortage of male actors did not prevent Soberton Players staging a thoroughly captivating version of Alan Bennett's adaption of The Wind in the Willows. Caroline Barfoot, as Toad, captured totally the essence of the devious, self-important yet engagingly enthusiastic hero, while Sharron Canning, as Rattie, gave an extremely convincing portrayal of Toad's brusque but kindly chum. Gender substitution also extended to minor roles, such as Ros Vogado's gaoler and Chris and Katie Cole's guards, with equal success.
Kyle Fraser was a more traditional choice as a timid, but loyal Mole while as Badger, Ewart Wood gave us the quintessentially English atriibutes of good sense and unflappability. Grant Cameron made an impressive debut with his portrayal of Otter and the train driver while veteran player, Mark Farrell, produced a sinister tour de force as the Chief Weasel, supported by fellow baddies, Holly Arkle as Weasel Norman and Callum Weston as Ferret Ferdy. Meg Sparks was a tour de force as the washerwoman and Hugh Pringle excelled as the lugubrious Wulfrunian, Albert the Horse.
Woodland animals were played with considerable charm by younger members of the group who were in fine voice for the delightful musical numbers such as "Up Tails All" and "Land of my Fathers."
Richard Smith's direction was faultless and he was well supported by musical director, Alaine Simpson and Susan Hyland, whose incredibly versatile set design conjured up seamlessly everything from river bank holes to baronial halls. Stage Manager, Mark Dennington, deserves mention for his skill in making the design come alive at every performance. Once again, a great effort by the entire production team and a very entertaining show.