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Directed by Marti Maraden
Starring Jordana Cox, Jennifer Roberts-Smith, Simon Rainville, and Kate Hurman

A girl finds comfort in a locked-away garden after she is taken in by her absentee uncle when her parents die of Cholera.



4 stars

December 30th, 2000

    This was a wonderful telling of the story of the Secret Garden.  It contained all of the emotion required, and had a wonderful cast.  I was amazed at how much they could project using just a few simple set pieces.  

  The actors were terrific, especially young Mary.  She starts off as the impudent child when she arrives at her uncle's mansion, and quickly transforms into a warm and friendly person as she is introduced to all the pleasures of having friends and tending warm things that are alive.  

  Mary is by far the best part of the production.  She successfully pulled off a temper tantrum (not easy at all), lots of excitement, paranoia, and dignity, for such a young girl.  She showed lots of energy and so much talent that it was a joy to watch her.  And she was in just about every single scene!

  Martha was good too, once I got used to her.  I had trouble with her Cockney accent at first, but she was very lovable.  Her brother, Dickon, was so gentle and kind that he was also a joy to watch.  The other child, Colin, was less impressive, but his was probably the hardest job, since he had to show contempt and transform himself from inside a bed and a wheelchair.  

  The adults were no less worthy of praise.  Mrs. Medlock was an utter joy to watch.  Every time I saw her, I had to both cower and laugh at the same time.  She projected the air of the person in control at all times, and she did it perfectly.  Her performance was so perfect that I was disappointed when her time on stage was reduced during the second act.  The rest of the adults were well represented, but had much less time on stage.  Mary's uncle was very good at being distant, and the scene where he tries to talk to Mary, but is too shy that he doesn't know how to even stand, was wonderful.  The gardener was another joy to watch.  He was protective of his flowers, but by the time he discovers that Colin can walk, he shows such joy and astonishment.

  The sets were simple, but very effective.  Mary's bedroom had just enough to show that she would be very lonely.  Colin's bedroom was similarly simple.  The garden consisted of a backdrop of leaves, with a small trellis that was wheeled in so Mary, Dickon and Colin could sit somewhere.  They were very well done.  But the set-stealer has to be the one that was on stage for less than five minutes at the very end.  It was designed to elicit as many good emotions as possible with a single jolt.  The leafy backdrop was removed, and suddenly we saw the garden at the angle the actors normally saw it.  Three trellis-like sets complemented a colourful backdrop and a gazebo with a giant oak tree stretching up to the ceiling.  All of it was in bloom, with extra flowers so that the stage looked like it really was a garden.  To complement it, flower petals drifted down from above them to land on the floor.  

  All in all, it was an excellent performance.  There is no way that it could evoke the scenery that was displayed in the movie, but it did an admirable job, and actually fleshed out some of the sequences and characters in unique ways.    Truly, I enjoyed it almost as much as the movie.  And there is something about a live performance that brings out some wonderful feelings.


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