The Secret Garden Experience
Review: Wizard Presents The Secret Garden Experience, available via the Oxford Playhouse. Experience designer: Kate Bunce. Composer: Arun Ghosh. Book here.
[Disclosure: The Oxford Playhouse provided me with a ticket for the purposes of this review.]
The Secret Garden Experience is theatre company Wizard Presents’ new offering – adapted from the classic story by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
In the story, Mary, a spoilt little girl journeys from India to England after her parents die. She is sent to live with her Uncle, Mr Craven, in a house called Misselthwaite Manor on the Yorkshire moors. There, she discovers a hidden garden that has been locked away for ten years. She manages to open the door and with two new friends, she explores the garden and its hidden wonders.
The Secret Garden Experience aims to recreate that peaceful feeling of magical discovery by adapting the story into eight 20-minute chapters, gently narrated by Danyah Miller. These chapters should be listened to while doing the related activity that comes with it. Each activity is beautifully gift wrapped and is presented in a box, complete with a secret compartment, that arrives excitingly in the post.
When I got the box, it felt a bit like Christmas! Although Wizard Presents recommends that the show is listened to over at least 8 days – I couldn’t wait. So I listened to the show over two days with my Dad. Together, we opened the parcels and did the activities.
It was very restful to do something with my Dad that didn’t involve a screen or going for a run. My Dad made a beautiful robin out of the clay that came in the box, and it is now sitting in our garden.
My favourite parcel is the one that comes with the first chapter. It contains a beautiful key, and it feels quite magical to open it. I am planning to hang it in our garden somewhere.
For younger children, I think it would be really fun for parents to hide the key in the garden to find – as a way to begin the experience.
The box full of gift-wrapped activities was definitely my favourite part of the production but it was also very relaxing to listen to Danyah Miller’s lovely voice, telling us the enchanting story. Dad and I fully relaxed for the first time in ages – it was almost like a meditation.
This is a really great show for the whole family to listen to – and I think it would be a fun thing to do with grandparents if you haven’t seen them in real life for a while. It’s relaxing and even though you are listening to the narration – you can still chat – and do nice things together.
It’s also something that would be lovely to listen to alone. If you plan to do that, I think it would be good to listen on headphones – you can block out the world and float away to the garden.
This is a really beautiful experience – relaxing and restful – I’m grateful to have been able to do it.
Young reviewer, Charlotte Trichard, has been going to the theatre regularly since she was a baby. She is looking forward to going back to the theatre when things open up. Charlotte loves fencing and she plays the piano.