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First Published 12 July 2011, Last Updated 9 January 2012

Bad Physics theatre company is back at Southwark Playhouse with a summer treat for the family, an adaptation of Toad that gets the balance just right between frightening thrills and pun-tastic humour.

There could be no better venue for this wooded adventure, with the dark railway arches providing the echoing spookiness of the wild wood and the flooded, muddy stage becoming the river on which Rat spends his days – in this version clad in fluorescent boating gear and hipster sunglasses.

All the Wind In The Willows gang are here, given an edge of humanity by Bad Physics. Mole is a scaredy-cat with a geek-chic twist, wearing a duffel coat, pink Doctor Martins and thick-rimmed glasses, while Badger is a gruff loner in the woods, a black and white beard the only nod to his animal side.

Of course Toad steals the day with his big head and even bigger mouth. Obsessed with anything that moves, his love for automobiles and over-zealous nature finally get the better of him when his pimped up shopping trolley causes an accident on the riverbank.

Putting him on house arrest, his friends are determined to show him the error of his ways but trouble is in store from three plotting weasels who are even more determined to teach him a lesson.

Dan Bird’s production is at its cleverest when it evokes not only the imagination of the audience but of the cast members themselves. Weasels imagine they can disguise themselves as rabbits and a whole jury is assembled for the trial of Toad from just one character with a talent for accents.

The production is a visual treat full of inventive props, impressive costumes and hidden sets. Even as you first take your seat in the darkened auditorium under a camouflaged net glistening with fairy lights you know you are about to embark on an adventure.



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