Event review: The Wind in the Willows, Charles Cryer Theatre, Carshalton

By - Friday 31st October, 2014

Danielle Lowe sings the praises of Mr Toad, Mole and Ratty

The Charles Cryer Studio Theatre, 39 High Street, Carshalton, SM5 3BB

Time from East Croydon  20 mins by X26 

Tickets £13, £12, £11.

Mr Toad.
Photo by Doug Spooner, used with permission.

The Croydon Operatic and Dramatic Association (CODA) has entertained people of the borough and surrounding areas for over 70 years with shows including Rent, West Side Story, My Fair Lady, South Pacific and so many more. Their latest production, The Wind in the Willows, at the Charles Cryer Studio Theatre in Carshalton, is another that they can add to the categories ‘fabulous’, ‘great success’ and ‘highly enjoyable for the audience’.

Many seats were filled at the opening night performance on Wednesday 29th October, by young and old. The company provided laughter with the age-old puns including: “You can’t frogmarch me – I’m a toad!” and similar animal-based one liners. The atmosphere, not just from the audience but from the cast too, was one of enjoyment and happiness. Sitting in the theatre was not only comfortable but also a highly pleasant experience.

The performance itself was a triumph

On the river.
Photo by Doug Spooner, used with permission.

There is something incredibly brave about doing Alan Bennett’s play based on Kenneth Grahame’s beloved children’s book, The Wind in the Willows. Not only does it bring a large group of performers on the stage at one time, but also this is a constantly changing set. Yet they managed it well. The way that the characters themselves help to take the items away whilst still doing various bits of acting (the odd one-liner and chanting) helped it to flow well and didn’t leave the audience feeling that the play was a bit jittery.

The performance itself was a triumph. The roles were selected perfectly for all those involved and they seemed to really engage in the animals they were playing. All were highly professional and avoided smiling out of place or forgetting lines when the audience clapped or laughed. Also seeing females act in what is traditionally a very male-orientated script was fantastic indeed and Sarah Block did a splendid job of being Mr Toad, the rather self-centred, easily-distracted and far-too-wealthy-for-his-own-good toad.

It’s a wonderful night of fun and joy!

The courtroom.
Photo by Doug Spooner, used with permission.

The stand out actors had to be those playing Mole and Ratty. The way that Michael Greenwood portrayed Mole, you wouldn’t believe that he was only seventeen, and he is certainly one to watch out for in the future. His stage presence was equalled by Tony Bannister playing Ratty, who clearly understands stage direction and has a great passion for acting; in fact, he has a very recognisable face which was perhaps assisted by his large number of previous roles both in and out of CODA.

All in all, this is brilliant performance that is not just good for children but for adults too. A lot of laughter should be expected on attending and the questions raised about society, wealth and stately homes are things that are still all too relevant to society today. To miss this would be to miss a wonderful night of fun and joy!

To find out more about CODA, visit the website. The show continues until Saturday 1st November with daily performances at 7:45pm and a Saturday matinee at 2.30pm.

Danielle Lowe

Danielle is a student at City University London and fascinated by all things food, culture, politics and sport. You can often find her in the food and drink section of Croydon Central Library. Lived in Croydon since August 2014. Find her on twitter @DanniiLowe.

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