The Secret Garden | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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The Secret Garden


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The Secret Garden, Bog Theatre, at Prairie Lakes Community Center. Frances Hodgson Burnett's evergreen children's classic, the story of a young orphan finding happiness and friendship in a secret garden on her aloof uncle's property, is enchanting. But this stage adaptation by Bog Theatre's director in residence, Daniel Scott, is dutiful and dull. The familiar characters and plot twists are all here, but the flair and magic are missing. Even the attempts at whimsy don't work; the appearance onstage of a grinning little puppeteer (Marti Papciak) to maneuver the robin that's Mary's first friend is jarring and unintentionally comical.

Presenting a play with three child leads is a huge challenge for any company. Britney Kubis as the lonely Mary, John House as the chipper Dickon, and Josh Friedburg as the sickly Colin easily recite their lines, but they never act. They say the words without reacting to one another or even pausing to convey any emotion.

Under the direction of Michelle Ann Mueller, this 90-minute play drags terribly, even though each individual scene is performed at a galloping pace. Big moments, as when Mary finds a mysterious key and when she enters the secret garden for the first time, are completely underplayed in the rush to get to the blackouts--which are interminably long.

--Jenn Goddu

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