City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

The Secret Garden Review


By Justine Blundell - Posted on 17 December 2010

4
Secret Garden
Show Details
Production: 
John Stalker (Producer), Anna Linstrum (Director), Phil McCandlish (Production Manager),Marsha Norman (Book and Lyrics), Lucy Simon (music), David Grindord (Casting Director), Raj Ghatak (Assistant Director), Michael Haslam (Musical Director), Leon Charles (Assistant Musical Director), Tim Mitchell (Lighting Design), Francis O'Connor (Set and Costume Design), Chris Walker (Orchestra), Colin Pink (Sound Design), Gavin Mitford (Choreographer).
Performers: 
Caspar Phillipson (Archibald Craven), Sophie Kavanagh (Mary Lennox), Graham Bickley (Dr Neville Craven), Sophie Bould (Lily), Toby Hughes (Colin Craven), Jos Slovick (Dickon), Lauren Hood (Martha), Norman Pace (Ben Weatherstaff ), Siobhan Redmond (Mrs Medlock), Hazel Gardner (Rose Lennox), Haydn Oakley (Captain Albert Lennox).
Running time: 
115mins

The story I remember from my childhood was that of Mary: sullen, surly and rude, who meets bed-ridden, ‘crippled’ Colin who is much the same. All the grown-ups pander to him, terrified that one wrong word may send this fragile child to his death.

In Mary he has met his match: she is not afraid of his frail health, and has no problem speaking her mind, telling him to get out of bed and get on with it. Mary finds the outdoor life, is helped to nurture the secret garden back to life and with it she, Colin and her Uncle Archie (Colin’s father) also find life again.

While this is broadly the story that was told, there was much more of a focus here on the adults and on adult emotions. The centre of this piece was Mary’s Uncle Archie, played magnificently by Caspar Phillipson, with whom she is sent to live when her parents die. He has yet to come to terms with the death of his wife Lily, played equally superbly by Sophie Bould. Here lies the connection between the stories of Mary and Archie, symbolised here by the silvery-grey-clad ghosts that haunt them both through every room and corridor in the house, creating an oppressive, hopeless atmosphere.

There is a beautiful contrast made between the working classes who, unafraid, venture outdoors to nurture back to life that which appears dead; and the upper classes, stuck in the huge, dismal house, preoccupied with memories and ghosts while they fearfully try to preserve the meagre half-life they have left.

Mary is shown the door to the secret Garden by the ghost of Lily and with the help of Dickon, played with great energy by Jos Slovick, she gradually nurtures the garden and simultaneously bullies Colin back to life. Archie, who had been driven from the house, haunted by Mary’s resemblance to his dead wife, returns to find his son racing with Mary round the now-blooming garden and happiness is restored.

Although the show is recommended for over six-year-olds, this was a very adult interpretation of a children’s story. Yet it held the focus of the younger audience with some stunning scenery, superb acting, beautiful movement and fabulous singing. Special mention should be made to Sophie Kavanagh who played Mary with a beautifully understated realism. Both adults and children were swept along, thoroughly engrossed and entertained - a stunning piece of musical theatre.

Show runs until Saturday 8th January 2011

 I hated the show and left at the interval.Sorry.