The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden

Emily Stone (13)

There’s something truly magical about visiting this theatre on a warm evening in Regent’s Park. The setting itself feels like a garden, which is such a clever way to bring Frances Hodgson Burnett’s 1911 book to life. They’ve updated things that were okay back then but wouldn’t be now. There are themes that appeal to both kids and grown-ups – like appreciating nature and animals, but also serious stuff about disabilities and how people were treated badly because of their race.

Mary Lennox, who grew up in India, starts off as a bit of a brat. But when her parents die and she moves to Yorkshire to live with her uncle, everything changes. Finding her aunt’s secret garden is like finding a piece of her aunt herself. And as the garden blooms, so does Mary, and even her cousin Colin who’s sick all the time.

I loved this version of The Secret Garden because it stuck close to the book and really made you feel what the characters were feeling.

Hannah Khalique-Brown was so believable as Mary, even though she’s older than the character. Sharan Phull was charming as Lata/the Robin, and Archana Ramaswamy was warm as Padma. All the actors were great, like a team of storytellers.

Mary’s change from being a brat to being kinder was shown so well, even in what she wore – from a tight blue dress to a loose pink one that matched the garden flowers.

I also liked how everyone played different parts. Mrs. Medlock, who’s normally strict, also acted as a raven with her cloak. That was funny! And the robin – played by the same actress who was Mary’s aunt – was a clever touch. Her red hand showed the robin’s red breast. The robin was Mary’s first friend and a peaceful little thing, just like her aunt loved nature and the secret garden.

At the end, when Archibald Craven was about to go into his wife Mary’s garden, the robin came to visit. But then the actress changed from being the robin to being his wife, holding his hand to help him through the door. It was really emotional and a big moment in the story.

The stage was set up so smartly. Different things were brought out during the play, like the secret garden door and the swing. And in the second act, characters opened colorful pinwheels to make “flowers” for the garden.

Abigail Stone (9)

We all know this story, but seeing it on stage was special. I loved the sets. At first, you could feel the mysteries and warmth of India, and then the dark, damp house in Yorkshire. The animals – like the robin, squirrel, fox, and crow – were so cool. The actors made them seem real.

In the secret garden, the flowers and swing were so bright and colorful, which was a big contrast to the house. In the Indian room, I loved the mysterious ivory elephant and golden rings.

I didn’t get why poor Colin didn’t know anything until Mary told him. But then everything changed for him. The costumes were really colorful too. It was funny that Mary didn’t know how to skip at first, but as she learned, she also learned how to deal with people.

We’re definitely going to tell our friends to go see this and bring their parents!


Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
A play in two Acts.

Based on book by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Adapted in a new version by Holly Robinson and Anna Himali Howard
Director:  Anna Himali Howard
Photo credit:  Alex Brenner
Cast includes:  Hannah Khalique-Brown, Theo Angel, Richard Clews, George Fletcher, Amanda
Hadingue, Molly Hewitt-Richards, Jack Humphrey, Avita Jay, Patrick Osborne, Sharan Phull, Archana Ramaswamy, Brydie Service
Running time 2 hours 30 minutes with interval
Until 20 July 2024