Toad of Toad Hall

I remember my parents reading Wind in the Willows to the children when I was very young. Maybe you can think about your personality from the character you most empathised with in that book. For me it was always ratty although I rather thought I’d like to be the wise one – badger.

Toad was very much not a favourite. He was far too brash for me. I rather despaired of this arrogant character who hadn’t seemed to grasp what was right, what was wrong and what was, plainly, stupid.

Did A A Milne think differently from me? He made Toad the central character when he reworked Kenneth Graham’s book into a stage play. It was called Toad of Toad Hall. It very much follows Toad’s adventures on the open road, his imprisonment, escape and return to Toad Hall where a battle takes place to dislodge the weasels and stoats who have taken it over during Toad’s incarceration.

I saw the play when my sister’s school put it on. My sister was in the cast. From memory, which could be totally wrong, I should say she was a chief weasel.

My wife, as a girl, went one stage better. She was taken, by family friends, to see a performance at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford on Avon. Like me, she is a hoarder so has the programme.

image002I do love that front cover, portraying Mr Toad as very much the gent with is top hat and bow tie.  As we can see this production had a run for Christmas 1956 and into 1957.

I’m not very knowledgeable on the acting profession so actor’s names mean little to me – but here is the cast.

image004

I have, though, heard of some of the cast who went on to have quite illustrious careers in stage, TV and film.

But mostly, I like the memories this brings back – for me of my sister and a quite different performance and for my wife of this very occasion.

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