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The Secret Seven review at Storyhouse, Chester – ‘faithful to the flavour of the original’

The Secret Seven at Storyhouse. Photo: Mark Carline The Secret Seven at Storyhouse. Photo: Mark Carline
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Glyn Maxwell has freely adapted Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven canon, selecting his favourite elements from the books to form a seasonal story that’s faithful to the flavour of the original.

For the Seven’s sleuthing style to work the setting is firmly 1950s, in a world before mobile phones. The gang meet in an old Anderson shelter in the garden and use torches to send signals. The day before Christmas Eve, they are looking for a mystery to solve, when the stumble upon a pair of strange characters lurking around a deserted cottage.

Maxwell’s script and Alex Clifton’s direction highlight the sense of play in the story, with the children’s vivid imaginations really shining out of the text. An adult cast play all the roles, but there’s never any difficulty getting the feel of childhood innocence in their interpretations of the adult world.

The story takes a while to get going and at first the mystery appears to be the plot, but the production soon finds itself and has the audience hanging on every word.

The addition of a puppet for their dog Scamper adds further to the flight of imagination. The air of nostalgia in the 1950s setting, coupled with the energy and enthusiasm of the cast, make this a show more than capable of appealing to children and adults alike.

Inside Chester’s new £37m Storyhouse theatre

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Verdict
Imaginative reworking of Enid Blyton's stories that's faithful to the flavour of the originals
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