The Secret Garden is the big Summer production at the York Theatre Royal this year, and one of my all-time favourite children’s books.
It’s 1910 and spoilt, lonely Mary Lennox lives a life of luxury in India with her aristocratic parents. But when an unexpected twist of fate suddenly leaves her orphaned, she is sent to live with an unknown uncle in Misselthwaite Manor – a mysterious place – on the wild Yorkshire Moors. With the help of some unexpected friends, Mary sets about discovering the legend of its secret garden.
With a delightful score and a menagerie of puppets, Jessica Swale’s richly imagined adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s much-loved classic The Secret Garden is a summer must-see for all ages at York Theatre Royal from July 27 to August 25. Director Liz Stevenson restages the adaptation that was a big Christmas hit at Theatre by the Lake in Keswick. Set and costumes are designed Lily Arnold and with a score by Barnaby Race.
Liz Stevenson said:
‘I am thrilled that our production of The Secret Garden will be coming to York Theatre Royal. It was a wonderful experience making the show in Keswick last Christmas, and to see how the audience there took the story to their hearts. It feels particularly special to now be bringing it to Yorkshire.
“Through the journey of the play we see how Yorkshire’s beautiful landscape and the warmth of its people turn Mary’s life around. Jess Swale’s adaptation of this much-loved classic brings all of its magic and mystery to life on stage, and we’re excited about reviving it for York Theatre Royal this summer.”
Liz Stevenson won the JMK Young Director Award in 2015 for which she was awarded the opportunity to direct her production of Barbarians at the Young Vic. The production was nominated for an Olivier award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre. She is the associate director at Theatre by the Lake and artistic director of Junction 8 Theatre. Her work as a director including Under the Market Roof, Handbagged, How My Light Is Spent (nominated for two Manchester Theatre Awards 2017), Macbeth, Bluestockings, Too Fast and Minight at the Hotel Beauregard.
Adapter Jessica Swale is an Olivier award-winning writer and director. Her first play Blue Stockings (Shakespeare’s Globe) won her an Evening Standard Most Promising Playwright and is now on the GCSE drama syllabus. Other plays include Nell Gwynn, which transferred from the Globe to the West End and won the Olivier for Best New Comedy, and adaptations of The Jungle Book, Sense and Sensibility, Far from the Madding Crowd and Stig of the Dump. Directing include The Belle’s Stratagem (Evening Standard Best Director 2012 nomination) and numerous productions for her company Red Handed at the Arcola, the Park and Southwark Playhouse.
The cast includes Ella Dunlop (Pieces of String, Colchester Mercury; Comedy of Errors, Exeter Northcott Theatre) as Mary Lennox, Matthew Durkan (The History Boys, UK tour; Housed, Old Vic; Fragment (The North Wall, Oxford), and Steven Roberts (Fracked! Chichester Minerva & UK tour; The History Boys, UK tour; and George Smith in C4’s Hollyoaks).
Flo Wilson reprises the role of Mrs Medford she took in the Keswick production, following her recent appearance in Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads at West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds. The cast also includes Chris Jack (who has been touring in York Theatre Royal/Pilot Theatre’s production of Brighton Rock), Keith Bartlett, Victoria Brazier, Antony Jardine, Avita Jay, Coral Sinclair and Rosalind Steele.
What the critics said about The Secret Garden at Theatre by the Lake:
“Stevenson marshals her ensemble very effectively, and nicely balances the production’s contrasting moods … superb set and sound design” The Stage
“A beautiful production, clever, touching and magical” Cumbria Lake
“Bursting with Technicolor vitality” The Stage
“One word – magical” North West End
York Theatre Royal
The Secret Garden
27, 28, 31 July at 7pm
1,2, 4, 9, 11, 15, 16, 18, 23, 25 August at 2.30pm
8 and 22 August at 10.30am & 3pm
Tickets £16 – £25. Family ticket £50 (max 2 adults)
Box office 01904 623568
Audio described Thu 23 Aug 7pm & Sat 25 Aug 2.30pm
BSL Sat 18 Aug 2.30pm
Captioned Sat 25 Aug 2.30pm
Relaxed performance Thu 16 Aug 2.30pm