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June 14, 2017 / basabbott

1911 Nature Cure

Review

The Secret Garden
Spinning Wheel Theatre
Palgrave Community Centre

A Richard Mabey style nature cure is one of the themes of Frances
Hodgson Burnett’s 1911 novel.
Emotional neglect and parental death have turned Mary into a
“tyrannical, selfish little pig”. But tlc, play and gardening do
wonders for her.
The Indian Raj background and cholera epidemic are conveyed by a letter
– one of the clever means of adaptation in Amy Wyllie’s production.
Back in Yorkshire Mary (Niamh McGowan) has one angry set-to with a
servant. Then she brightly discovers skipping, friendship, plants,
animals and local dialect.
Alice Osmanski does brilliant work as the housekeeper, maid and male
gardener.
You forget that young adults are playing both grown-ups and children.
Joe Leat shines as Mary’s guardian, the doctor and her friend Dickon.
Samuel Norris rejuvenates movingly as the sickly Colin.
Becca Gibbs’ set design suggests Yorkshire stone softened by floral
tendrils.
The production picks up on the garden as a childhood metaphor – both an
enchanted era and a gathering place of fears.

Basil Abbott

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