The Secret Garden

An Angel Exit Theatre production, co-commissioned by Activate and Lighthouse Poole and co-produced by Bridport Arts Centre and Dorchester Arts.

‘A stunning piece of physical theatre that is feast for all the senses.’

To coincide with the centenary of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s life-affirming classic novel, Angel Exit’s brand new production of The Secret Garden toured the UK from January to April 2012.

Angel Exit unearthed the dark heart of The Secret Garden, which sees spoilt Mary Lennox plucked from the bright vibrancy of India and transplanted to a big old house full of secrets on the grey Yorkshire moors. As Mary battles loneliness she encounters locked doors, a curious robin, hidden keys, and strange cries ringing down the corridor…

Presented in Angel Exit’s rich visual style and blending storytelling with striking physicality, beautiful puppets, live singing and an original soundtrack, The Secret Garden was performed by an ensemble of five: Lynne Forbes (Martha/Robin), Ashleigh Cheadle (Mary Lennox), Max Mackintosh (Dickon), Simon Carroll Jones (Mrs Medlock/ Colin) and Henry Douthwaite (Ben/ Mr Craven). It was directed by Tamsin Fessey, designed by Jodie Gardner, with puppets made by Polly Beestone and original music created by Tom Ball. Matt Llewellyn Smith built the set and toured as company stage manager. The script was written by Tamsin and Lynne under the guidance of Phil Porter, and the beautiful costumes were made by students from Arts University College Bournemouth.

The Secret Garden premiered at Dorchester Corn Exchange in January 2012 and ended with a five day run at Lighthouse, Poole. The company performed over 60 times in both large venues (Buxton Opera House, Margate Theatre Royal, Brewhouse, Taunton, Carriageworks, Leeds) and in village halls through Take Art, Artsreach, Rural Arts Wiltshire, Applause and Night Out Wales rural touring schemes. We returned to many of our favourite venues and discovered some new ones including Artsdepot, London, Colchester Mercury and Cornerstone Didcot.

The Secret Garden was funded by Arts Council England and West Dorset Leisure fund. It was Angel Exit’s third show created in Dorset.


‘Angel Exit are consummate story tellers who have created a magical mesmerizing production. Highly recommended.’
‘An imaginatively inventive retelling.’
‘A magical, engrossing and beautifully judged show that really is suitable for all ages.’
‘The whole effect is magical & the full-house audience in Dorchester Corn Exchange, applauded long & loud when the show arrived at its happy ending.’
‘It is a tribute to the company that the smaller as well as adult members of the audience concentrated so completely.’
‘This justly famous children's novel has been transformed into a stunning piece of physical theatre that is a feast for all the senses, thanks to the imaginative creative team of Angel Exit, a Dorset-based professional company.’


The design of The Secret Garden was funded through a We Fund campaign.

Angel Exit would like to thank: Michael Bailey, The Ellem Foundation, Jomax, Neil Cheadle, Ashleigh’s Big Brother, D Smith, Roy Attfield, Abigail Rennie, Tim Keen, Johnny Burke, Mugginsear, Esther Keen, PlayRewindForward, Napoleon Creative, Chris Sherlock, Irene Archibald, Joel Nesbitt, Amanda Lamb, Jonathan Dunstan, Elzevir, Adam Blake, Chubbybubby, La Clinica A Mano, N Labib, M.J. van de Woerd and all our other supporters for their help in making this show.

…and thank you to the 7,000 + people who came to watch The Secret Garden.