Few stories have captured the imagination of children and adults alike as Kenneth Grahame’s beloved ‘The Wind In The Willows’: the memorable characters, the bucolic setting, the warmth, the gentle humour, the imagery, the poetry, the teachings about life and the love of the natural world. We hope, in this short, fun-filled piece of drama, that we have captured the essence of the book and made it engaging and accessible to its young performers, regardless of where they may be performing around the world.
The animals of the riverbank welcome us to their beautiful home (THE RIVERBANK).
The rabbits are playing and feeding across the grassland. Suddenly they scatter as an animal crawls up through the ground. It is Mole, who has left his home in search of adventure. He passes the time of day with the rabbits, who have recovered from their shock, then continues his walk. He stumbles upon the river and, struggling a little with his eyesight, falls in. He gets swept under and cries out for help. Ratty, Otter and Beaver hear his cries and manage to pull him out onto the riverbank.
Mole is surprised to wake up in Ratty’s house. He recollects falling into the river, but nothing beyond that. Ratty brings him breakfast and welcomes him to his home on the riverbank. He suggests that they go for a row in his boat. Mole is apprehensive, but agrees. They row the boat upriver, meeting friends and well-wishers. They row past the Wild Wood. Ratty warns Mole about never going there, full as it is of weasels, stoats, foxes and the like. On the other side of the river is a grand manor house. It belongs to Toad, who appears and invites them for a visit (THE GREAT TOAD HALL).
On the drive outside of Toad Hall, a group of field mice are polishing Toad’s new motor car. Toad enters and ‘encourages’ them to work harder. Mole and Rat enter and Toad waxes lyrical about the joys of driving (fast!), scoffing at Ratty’s warnings about being in an accident or ending up in jail. He invites them for a drive. Ratty refuses, but Mole is intrigued and agrees. They set off in the car, racing around the country roads, zooming past angry pedestrians and showing no regard for the rules of the road (WATCH OUT, IT’S MISTER TOAD!). Suddenly, Mole spots a hedgehog in the road. Toad swerves and the car crashes into a ditch. Mole is thrown from the car into the fringes of the Wild Wood. Clearly shocked, he staggers away from the car, stepping further into the wood.
Lost in the Wild Wood, Mole starts to hear noises. It grows dark and he strays from the path (THE WILD, WILD WOOD). He is confronted by the weasels, stoats and foxes and shows great bravery, but is taken and put on the menu for that evening. Just in time, Ratty and Badger arrive to save him. The weasels, stoats and foxes flee.
Having fled the wood, the weasels hear that Toad has been arrested for dangerous driving. Knowing Toad Hall will be empty of its owner, they decide to sneak in and take it for themselves (WEASEL HALL).
Dawn the following morning. The rabbits are grazing when they spot a number of weasels and stoats, far from the Wild Wood. They flee for safety. Mole, who is popping back to his home, follows one of the weasels and discovers that they have taken over Toad Hall.
Ratty, Mole, Badger, Otter, Beaver, Heron, the rabbits, the field mice and other ‘riverbankers’ plan how to rid Toad Hall of its new inhabitants and send them back to the Wild Wood (A CUNNING PLAN).
The weasels, stoats and foxes are in celebratory mood (WEASEL HALL – REPRISE), dining extravagantly.
The field mice and rabbits are used as decoys to distract the sentries outside Toad Hall. Then, using old tunnels known to Badger, the other animals storm the house and send the weasels and friends packing.
Next day, Ratty and Mole are recuperating by the river when Toad appears, having escaped from jail dressed as a washerwoman. He disappears as quickly as he arrived, with the police in hot pursuit. Ratty and Mole celebrate the return of the natural order of things on the riverbank (THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS)