Ed Viney directs the show for Bristol Old Vic Theatre School students this year, and his message throughout rehearsal was to have the sort of fun on stage that communicated itself with every member of the audience.
With a clever set that includes slides, walkways, climbing holds and revolving islands, the whole panoply of the river, Toad Hall, the court, the prison, the barge, the steam engine, Ratty’s and Mole’s homes and Badger’s sett in the deep dark wood come colourfully to life.
You can’t stage this story without a charismatic actor to play the irrepressible Toad, and George Howard is certainly that, full of faux humility and overweening ego, he charms and barges his way through life.
It’s a problem for the proper and dapper Rat (brilliantly captured by Joey Akubeze) and his younger, shyer companion bachelor, Mole (the loveable Alais Lawson).
And when they can’t cope any more, its time for the gravitas of Badger (Danann McAleer).
It is an ensemble peice, with most of the peformers doubling or trebling up, as well as singing, playing a variety of musical instruments … and having fun.
This quintessentially English story runs at various day and evening times until Thursday 17th December. It is well worth the journey to the Redgrave in Clifton to see.
Photographs by Toby Farrow