Wednesday, 11 January 2012

THE STAGE REVIEW | THE SECRET GARDEN



The Secret Garden

Published Wednesday 11 January 2012 at 11:57 by Susie Wild
Angel Exit bring an imaginatively inventive retelling of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic children’s story to the stage. Ten year old Mary Lennox (Cheadle) is an orphaned, spiteful child who is brought from her home in Calcutta to a damp, shadowy Yorkshire mansion to live with her distant uncle. Left to her own devices, Mary Mary Quite Contrary discovers a key to a secret garden where nature, magic and three special people help to turn her into a much more agreeable young woman and reunite the family.
Songs, musical rhythms, and gentle acrobatics keep the scenes changing and pace and narrative moving. Aimed at children aged six and over, Angel Exit have managed to keep a lighter tone to the book’s dark themes of grief and loss, the bereaved slowly taking comfort in seeing how their garden grows. Packed full of curiosities, the simplified production engages European traditions of travelling ensemble theatre including chorus and clowning. A small mischievous cast of five play multiple characters as well as taking the forms of narrator, furniture, forest and an elephant to good effect using physical theatre and puppetry. The production’s style and set evokes the joie de vivre of dressing up boxes and children’s make believe, however sometimes the lack of distinct costume changes for actors playing multiple parts did cause confusion for younger viewers.
Cheadle is believable as the initially angry and later earnest Mary. Simon Caroll-Jones is suitably sour and dour as Mrs Medlock and charmingly camp as Colin - Mary’s invalid cousin who can walk after all.


Production information

The Savoy Theatre, Monmouth, Until January 10, then touring until April 14
Authors:
Tamsin Fessey, Lynne Forbes
Director:
Tamsin Fessey
Producer:
Angel Exit Theatre
Cast includes:
Ashleigh Cheadle, Simon Caroll-Jones, Henry Douthwaite, Lynne Forbes, Max Mackintosh
Running time:
2hrs 18mins


Read the review on The Stage website. The Stage launches the new look tomorrow. #exciting

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