Lakeland bliss

11th August 1995 at 01:00
The evening was bliss. The sun's ferocity was tempered by a cool breeze at the National Trust's Erddig Estate in Wrexham, north Wales. And before us, Clwyd Youth Theatre did what they have been doing for the last 25 years with flair, energy and enormous talent.

Toad of Toad Hall, adapted by A A Milne, was made for this promenade performance. The real boat was on a real lake, around which we moved from scene to scene and the trees created as near enough to a wood as a youth theatre will ever have as a stage.

David Zoob's clever production was a finely tuned blend of the traditional and the zany. The weasels, ferrets and stoats became 50s rock 'n' roll teddy boys and girls, with enormous orange, yellow and black quiffs and frock coats and outsized tails to match. Woodland yobs par excellence, they twisted their way through original songs by Steve Allan Jones as they terrorised Toad, Rat, Mole and Badger, offering an interesting reminder to the audience that John Major's 50s idyll of warm beer and cricket was as full of oiks as the dystopic 90s.

Utterly professional performances by Matthew Bunting as a complicated, mercurial Toad, Lydia Baksh as the deliciously naive Mole and David Watson as a likably Woosterish Rat made me forget that I was watching youth theatre. But given that I was, I can't think of a better advertisement for it.

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