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Creative vision

Posted: 28th July 2016

Theatre review by Henry Ascoli

The Secret Garden, The Mill Studio, Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre


“If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.” 

This enchanting performance of a classic children’s tale reveals the Yvonne Arnaud’s creative vision at its very best, showcasing emerging talent within the intimate atmosphere of the Mill Studio.

Using live music, puppetry and just a little bit of magic, a highly accomplished cast tackles one of the best-loved stories of all time with passion, energy and determination.

Incisive use of props and carefully-chosen costumes ensure this performance makes its mark, encouraging us to indulge our imagination and join the journey into the secret garden…

After the death of her parents, Mary Lennox is sent to England to live in Misselthwaite Manor, her uncle’s great lonely house on the moors.

Pale, spoilt and quite contrary, Mary is also horribly lonely – until one day she learns of a garden in the Manor grounds, which has been kept locked and hidden for many years.And when a friendly robin helps Mary find the key, she discovers the most magical place anyone could imagine...

Tilly Bradley captures the transformation of Mary from lost, lonely soul to confident young woman, as she seeks solace in her newfound friendship with young Colin Craven.

Talking of whom, Theo Burns revels in this role, depicting his character’s sheer stoicism, fearlessness and desire to defy the odds.

Josh Penfold grows into the role of the sinister and bleak Archibald Craven, while Mylo McDonald is superbly cast as the brusque but kindly old gardener Ben Weatherstaff.

But what sets this production apart is not the individual qualities of each performer, but the strength of the cast as a unit, their superb choreography and seamless communication a pleasure to watch.

The Yvonne Arnaud’s Youth Theatre certainly set the bar high, and this latest production does not disappoint. Catch it while you can…

The Secret Garden plays in the Mill Studio until Tuesday 2nd August. To book tickets and find out more, call 01483 440000 or visit www.yvonne-arnaud.co.uk