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Review: Tom's Midnight Garden

Cheltenham Playhouse


On Saturday night my family and I settled into our seats at the quaint and ambient Playhouse Theatre for a new production of this well-loved children’s novel.

The show, directed by the talented Bill Cronshaw, is set in the 1950s and Victorian times and tells the story of 12-year-old Tom, who whilst staying with his Uncle and Aunt, discovers that, at midnight, the door to the tiny courtyard garden of their house transports him back in time.

Tom, imaginatively played by Tim Chapman, observes Victorian life, unseen by everyone except a young girl named Hatty - beautifully portrayed by Amy Balmforth. The two become inseparable playmates as Hatty slowly grows up and passes Tom in age. He begins to realise that every night when he walks through the door to the garden he arrives at a different point in the past.

As the play develops and picks up pace, the minimal backdrop is offset by the clever use of lighting and the audience were drawn into the heartwarming friendship between the two children. Towards the end, as Tom notices that Hatty is grown up and starting to drift away from him, we all felt his pain and had our fingers crossed for a happy ending.

On the night before Tom is due to return home, he desperately wants to visit the garden one more time only to find it is no longer there. His anguished cries for Hatty awaken the strange old lady who lives upstairs. The next morning, the secret of the garden is revealed. The final reconciliation between Tom, still a child, and the elderly lady - is one of the most moving moments in children's fiction as anyone who has read the book would agree.

Rapturous and well-earned applause greeted all the actors as the curtain came down and there was even a chance to mingle and have some photos taken with the cast.

For more details and to book click on the link below.


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