The Secret Garden review at the Gilded Balloon Teviot, Edinburgh – ‘enthralling and moving’

Tilly Bradley with cast in The Secret Garden

Created specially for Edinburgh Fringe 2016, Yvonne Arnaud Youth Theatre’s drama-with-music version of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s much-loved children’s classic is staged with focused professionalism and polished stagecraft.

Lucy Betts’ sensitive adaptation rightly centres on the key child roles: the lonely, disagreeable Mary Lennox, her self-preoccupied-seeming invalid cousin Colin – both healed and transformed by nature in the magical secret garden – and Dickon, who has always lived amid nature on the Yorkshire moors. In these roles, Tilly Bradley, Theo Burns and Ted Hayes respectively all display real zest and strong feel for the characters. Josh Penfold convincingly renders the sadness-drenched character of uncle Archie, while Kalyane Warren finely conjures the beautiful ghostly and gently vocal presence of his late wife Lilias.

The elements of Lucy Betts’ cleverly flexible set – flower-decked cases becoming walls, a step-ladder a tree and trellis-pieces gateways – frequently change creating Misselthwaite Manor’s gloomy interiors and lovely gardens. Children and adults, servants and gardeners form strong ensembles rendering David Perkins’ original lyrics in very pleasing style to his atmospheric score. This talented young cast merits high honours for this enthralling, satisfying and at times moving production for all ages.

Polished, professional and well-acted take on a children's classic