The Secret Garden at the York Theatre Royal Review

27 July to 25 August 2018


Reviewed by HW

York’s Theatre Royal is currently hosting a beautiful portrayal of the well-known story, The Secret Garden written by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

This stunning adaptation by Jessica Swale does an incredible job of making this children’s book enjoyable for all. Superb staging allows you to be transported through old corridors of the manor house, across countries from India to England, and into the magical elements of the secret garden.

We begin with getting a glimpse of young Mary’s childhood in India with strict and seemingly unloving parents, before a terrible fate leaves her moved to live with her Uncle (played by Chris Jack) at Misselthwaite Manor on the Yorkshire Moors. Ella Dunlop does a fantastic job of playing Mary and we watch as her friendship with Dickon (played by Matthew Durkan), Martha (Coral Sinclair) and later master Colin Craven (Steven Roberts) grows with remarkable effects.

Characters within the house such as Mrs Medlock (Flo Wilson) and Mrs Phipps (Victoria Brazier) keep the kids in line with their stern nature, and others such as Ben Weatherstaff (Keith Bartlett) help ground this truly Yorkshire tale with a more light hearted touch.

Unexpectedly eerie elements maybe too much for young children but create an even larger contrast to the joy and magic on offer as the story progresses. A delightful use of puppetry further brings to life this classic tale of the nurturing power friendship, love and nature can have.

The theatre itself is just 10 minute walk from York’s train station and nearby several bus routes, making it easily accessible. A traditional and yet seemingly intimate theatre, the Royal creates the perfect theatre experience. With its own bar and restaurant as well as being surrounded by York’s array of eateries, it is certainly well situated for an evening’s entertainment. For those not local to the area, The York Minster is practically next door as well as the art gallery, the museum gardens and not to forget the river Ouse.

This performance certainly offered a journey of nostalgia for adults and a beautifully magical and enchanting experience for children. A well-acted and staged performance by all invoked. It really was a perfect way to celebrate Yorkshire day!

Highly recommended.

Rating: 5/5

Tickets cost from £16 to £25 (booking fees may apply).

The Secret Garden is at the York Theatre Royal from 27 July to 25 August 2018, for more information or to book tickets visit or call the box office on 01904 623568.

York Theatre Royal, St. Leonard’s Place, York, YO1 7HD | 01904 623568

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