Royal Opera House 2
Return to Riverbank has flair
by Stuart Sweeney
December 23, 2003 -- Linbury Studio Theatre, London
"The Wind in the Willows"
is a fine piece of dance theatre for children which can also be enjoyed
by adults without embarrassment. The multi-purpose set designed by the
Quay Brothers is delightful -- a large cupboard disgorges a fabric river
and is transformed into a horse-drawn caravan in one scene and a forest
hiding place in another. A giant rocking chair becomes a prison cell,
and Ratty first appears rowing a small boat round his waist.
Best of all is the fine ensemble
playing with Matthew Hart as the hyper-kinetic Toad producing giggles
whenever he appears. Will Kemp as Ratty finds a level of detail and subtlety
-- an arched eyebrow here, a dramatic pose there -- that marks him out
as an exceptional performer. His experience with Matthew Bourne's productions
has provided him with an excellent platform for this role. Kenneth Tharp,
Iohna Loots, Joh Williams, Luke Heydon, and Tom Sapsford complete the
cast of some of the best character dancers in the country and director
William Tuckett's choreography fits the action and the narrative without
distracting from the action.