St Albans drama group Company of Ten takes a trip back in time with Tom’s Midnight Garden

Tom's Midnight Garden

Tom's Midnight Garden - Credit: Archant

A much-acclaimed adaptation of Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce is this year’s Christmas show from the Company of Ten at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans.

The book was first published in 1958 and has remained a firm favourite with generations of children for close on 60 years. In 2007 the British public voted Tom’s Midnight Garden the nation’s second favourite, from a choice of 10 put forward by an expert panel of children’s librarians.

David Wood’s adaptation is very faithful to the book and was first performed by Unicorn Theatre in September 2000. The following year it won the Equity award for Best Show for children and young people.

It centres on Tom, a young boy in the 1950s, who is sent to stay with his Uncle Alan and Aunt Gwen while his brother is ill with measles. They live in an upstairs flat of a big old house with no garden, just a small yard for parking. Above them lives a reclusive old lady, Mrs Bartholomew.

Because Tom might be infectious, he is not allowed to go out and play, leaving him bored and lonely. Awake at midnight, he hears the grandfather clock in the downstairs hall strike 13. Going downstairs to investigate, he discovers the back door is open. Stepping outside into a large, sunlit garden, Tom is transported back to the Victorian era when the house belonged to one family. There he meets and befriends another lonely child, Hattie.

However all good things come to an end as Tom realises that every time he visits, Hattie is getting older. Eventually she is a grown woman, and his exciting new world suddenly disappears when one night, the garden is no longer there.

But before Tom goes home, Mrs Bartholomew sends for him and reveals a wonderful secret.

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Director Katherine Barry said that the secret of the book’s success was the universal and timeless themes of friendship and loneliness. She praised her cast and production team.

“The many technical challenges it poses, with the changes in time and location, have been brilliantly overcome, without losing any of the magic of the story. The addition of beautiful original music by Emma Barry, and clever video projection by Christian Wells, has added another dimension which helps to create the atmosphere the play needs.”

Performances take place on the main stage at 7.30pm on Friday, December 18, Monday, December 21, Tuesday, December 22, and Tuesday, December 29.

Two performances, the first at 2.30pm and the second at 5.30pm are on Saturday and Sunday, December 19 and 20, Sunday and Monday, December 27 and 28.

To book tickets click here or call the box office on 01727 857861.