A garden growing friendships

Tom’s Midnight Garden

Birmingham Stage Company

The Old Rep, Birmingham

****

PHILIPPA Pearce's 1950's classic is given a new lease of life in this charming production by Birmingham Stage Company.

Premièred in Birmingham ten years ago, the production has been given a makeover since then and is now bubbling with life.

It tells the story of youngster Tom who is sent to stay with his aunt and uncle while his brother Peter recovers from measles. While his aunt and uncle are well-meaning, Tom finds his new home decidedly dull and is desperate to be allowed outdoors to play.

So when he discovers a secret garden which appears only at night, and a new playmate Hatty, his world suddenly changes.

Designed by Jacqueline Trousdale, the set takes us back and forth between these two worlds with ease as we jump from house to garden and through time.

David Tute is an enthusiastic Tom who shifts from boredom to excitement to wonder and yet succeeds in hiding all of this from his aunt and uncle.

Caitlin Thorburn plays a mischievous Hatty, a little girl who is so unloved at home that she clings onto her new friend as a gateway to her own happiness.

Kate Adams as Aunt Gwen and Tom Jude as Uncle Alan are thoroughly likeable if a little bewildered by their new guest.

Adapted by David Wood and directed by BSC actor/manager Neal Foster, the production keeps a fast pace with live music provided by the cast members.

At its heart lies the importance of friendship which can come in any shape or guise. And when the final piece of the mystery falls into place we realise that friendships can overcome time, difference and distance – not a bad message for a Christmas show. To 27-01-14.

Diane Parkes 

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