Review: Gavinton Variety Group’s Wind in the Willows

Wind in the Willows
Wind in the Willows

When Pat Scott produced Gavinton Variety Group’s ‘Wind in the Willows’ she never lost sight of her local audience.

I was lucky enough to attend the Saturday matinee where adults and children alike were entertained by characters dressed in riverbank costumes that would have sat very well around the table of TV chef Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall in his Riverbank Cottage - well done to Alison Farmer for getting the costumes so spot on. There were some wonderful songs and voices and, not forgetting the village panto theme, there was also good variety of audience singalong songs.

Coldingham production of Wind in the Willows

Coldingham production of Wind in the Willows

‘Thank You for the Music’, ‘Sing a Song’ and the Carpenters’ classic ‘Top of the World’ all led by music producer, Ronald Drummond.

Cathy Booker was hilarious as an unfortuntaley named “Ratty” as her character had a little touch of the Jonathon Ross. With her sidekick Mole, played by Ruth Devlin, they started off the singing with a fun rendition of ‘Consider Yourself’.

Lesley Redden put in a solid performance as Badger, the sensible one of this riverside trio. Dougal Affleck took the lead role as Toad and led the singing with his wonderful singing voice and never lost his “posh” accent once through the show whether in verse or song. His jokes probably belonged in his bin lorry but with his pompous attitude in the “way he told them” you couldn’t help but laugh.

Toad had all the audience shouting “wehey” every time he came on stage so kept us all on our toes and very much part of the show.

Coldingham production of Wind in the Willows

Coldingham production of Wind in the Willows

The baddies of the show - The Weasels, Sid (Emily Redpath), Vicious (Susanna McEwen), Johnny (Georgia McEwen) and Rotten (Niamh Dempsey) were all menacingly led by “Chief”, Daisy McCann dressed in leather, further adding to her nasty character.

Her evil weasels with their foot stamping, gruff voices and horrible ways followed her example throughout the show and were suitably booed by all on every appearance.

Appearances by Gwen Blacklock as the Cook and Clerk, John Mcewen as the Jailer, Pat Scott herself doubling up as the Horse and Bailiff all added value to the cast and Gavinton Show wouldn’t be the same without a walk on appearnce from Ian GIll.

Of course Cameron Redden took quickly to the stage as a fantastic witness - I’m sure he wasn’t primed at all! A mention must also go to Ian Aitchison who played the Judge.

I’m not sure if it was intentional or not but his comical timing and hard of hearing had the audeince in stitches!

This panto had all you would want to see.

They portrayed the story of ‘Wind in the Willows’ well, with a touch of jokes, sypmathy, sadness, evil, love, happiness, references to local names and place but most of all fun - that’s what would sum up Gavinton Panto for me, some real old fashioned honest fun.

H.J.B.