I KNOW how fortunate I am to have the opportunity to review so many great professional productions in the North West, but I also love amateur theatre.
I have seen some great shows this year, Burnley Light Opera’s “Cage Aux Folles”, Bolton-by Bowland’s fantastic “Cinderella” and to round off the year a fascinating version of “Wind in the Willows” by Ribcaged Productions at our splendid local venue, The Grand.
An accomplished adult cast, Keith Flood, Arthur Geldard, Kaitlin Howard, Richard Hoyle and Stephanie McKervill take on the principal roles. They are supported by a very impressive group of young actors. What struck me most about the interpretation is the clever idea of opening with a grandfather reading to his bored granddaughter and encouraging her to use her imagination.
This then means that the Girl, a remarkable performance by Katie Edmonson, is present throughout the action and we can relate to her reactions. She is also extremely adept in helping to shift the minimal scenery around, of which the most incredible device is a seemingly simple pale green plush three-seater sofa/settee/couch. Real credit must go to producer Deb Groves and her team for such imaginative use of such an everyday object.
The group of young players are amazingly confident. Helena Fearnley-Brown is a delightfully comic Stoat, the rather more tender-hearted sidekick to Wicked Weasel. Lewis Reed and Hannah Yates are charming rabbits and together with Lauren Hensey, Isabelle Smith, Phoebe Hope, and Mollie Yearby, they play a range of animals, both friendly and dangerous Wildwooders.
The Grand’s audience enjoyed it and the sound, lighting and particularly the clever filmed section were much appreciated. This show is coming back to the Grand on January 13th and 14th and is worth seeing. Ribcaged Productions are back in April with “Romeo and Juliet” and I shall be interested to see their “fast-paced modern adaptation”.
Further performances on January 13th and 14th. Box office: 01200 421599
PIPPA MUNRO HEBDEN