Missing magic in this garden

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The Secret Garden - Lowther Pavilion, Lytham

Storytellers Theatre were forced indoors by poor weather in the second of five open-air plays aimed at families which are scheduled for the Lowther Rose Gardens on Wednesday afternoons during the school holidays.

Cast members Ian Fox and Suzanne Fulton worked hard to sustain the pace in the dark story of the rather contrary Mary, but were not helped by a poorly adapted show which lacked humour and failed, mostly, to connect with the family audience.

Youthful watchers struggled with the jumping between the acting and the narration, in both the first and third person.

A separate narrator to focus attention and set up the dialogue would have been a major advantage.

The rapid changes of clothes and characters played by the ever-versatile Ian Fox made him tend to gabble, whilst an obtrusive soundtrack often hindered audibility too.

The undoubted talents of the cast may be better served by the next three shows – The Railway Children will certainly be a major test of the imagination – but here, maybe because of the undoubtedly sensible move to the Lowther Pavilion auditorium, the magic of the secret garden was never in evidence.