The Secret Garden – A Review

We’ve been fortunate enough to see most shows that Toronto has to offer, so when we were given the opportunity to see The Secret Garden at The Royal Alexandra Theatre, we jumped right on it.

This classic children’s novel written by Frances Hodgson Burnett was a staple in our childhood growing up and has been a favorite for many years. In anticipation of seeing it on stage, Veronica re-read the book to keep the images fresh in her mind. And it just might have been a bad idea.

We have always been a little wary of adaptations of books, whether to stage or movies, as they don’t always translate well into a different medium. Unfortunately, The Secret Garden fell into the poorly done category. The actors were fantastic and did take the stage with grace and poise but the story felt flat and the stage itself was uninspired.

We were simply amazed at how talented and clear Sophie Kavanagh, who played Mary Lennox, was. She breathed life into her character and was able to pull off a believable Mistress Mary Quite Contrary. One of our issues with this production, however, was with the presentation of Dickon (Jos Slovick), who is clearly much older than 12. His mentoring of Mary and Colin (Toby Hughes) sometimes bordered on creepy. Martha (Lauren Hood), Mary’s maid, was a delight to watch and her Yorkshire lilt was pleasant and easy to understand.

A lot of what Ms. Burnett’s writing was able to impart on young minds was lost in this production. While not terrible in the least, and we firmly believe everyone should go see it, it just lacked the real story and magic behind it. We never got to see the change in Mary and Colin and how they were able to bring life back into the secret garden and thereby life back into themselves.

The Secret Garden runs until March 17th 2011, and Mirvish is offering a discount on tickets through their website

images from google image search and official websites