The Secret Garden

Before discussing the show, I must highlight what a wonderful theatre Regent's Park Open Air Theatre is. I encourage you to arrive early to enjoy the garden space, food, drinks, and of course the beautiful theatre, especially if the sun is shining.

The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett, has been reimagined by Holly Robinson and Anna Himali Howard in this beautifully charming production, complete with quintessentially British moments.  The story follows a young girl named Mary Lennox, who is sent to live with her reclusive uncle after her parents die of cholera in India.

The Secret Garden is considered a classic of children's literature. Its themes of renewal, the magic of nature, and the importance of human connections resonate with all ages. The story emphasises that love, attention, and care can transform lives, much like a neglected garden can be brought back to life with care and effort.

The main action takes place in the garden. Over time, we see the garden grow; the designers have orchestrated this in such a way that scene by scene, it stretches out and blossoms. At the end of the show, performers threw what appeared to be colored powder paint at the wall, adding a lovely, colorful touch. I do wish that, similar to the on-set plants, this effect had been introduced earlier and developed as the show progressed.

A beautiful, playful touch to this show is the inclusion of puppetry. Laura Cubitt, as Puppetry Consultant, has done a fantastic job bringing everyday items to life to represent the animals: a shawl for a crow, a sweater for a fox, and a tippet for a comically grumpy squirrel.

While the set is visible throughout, as the sun sets during the interval, we return to find the lights, designed by Jai Morjaria, becoming more prominent. Being outdoors, it's unclear how much of the garden noises were created by Sound Designer Tingying Dong and how many were naturally occurring in the park, which shows how good this was.

I really enjoyed the dynamic between Hannah Khalique-Brown as Mary Lennox and Theo Angel as Colin. Together, they shared many genuinely touching moments of growth and character development, performed to great effect.

I can’t think of a better show to see in an open-air theatre!

This show was reviewed on the 25th June 2024 at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre where the show runs until the 20th July 2024.  Tickets available here: The Secret Garden | Open Air Theatre

Review written by Valentine Gale-Sides


Photo credit: Alex Brenner

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