Thorington Theatre is the new purpose-built outdoor theatre, just outside of Southwold. It was built last year amidst the pandemic, in a natural crater left by a bomb in World War II.
The seating and stage is made with (95%) locally sourced wood, trees surround the area and it has a very eco-friendly set-up. The place feels very minimalist yet full of life. It is an absolutely beautiful set-up and surrounding, and it makes for a really great family day out that is open to all ages, especially given how close it is to the coast too. If you get the chance to visit, I would highly recommend doing-so.
This Is My Theatre are a Sussex based company, who frequently tour far and wide around the UK and they pride themselves on creating work for all spaces, from historic buildings and churches to purpose built theatres and open-air venues.
The main aim of the company is to produce classical plays and literature that are accessible to all, particularly those living in rural communities, but as specialists in making performances for all spaces, they also create commissioned works to bring to life ideas of venues and engage visitors.
Upon arrival at the theatre, the group performing the show also gave us half an hour of music ahead of the play starting, performing a mix of folk tunes. This helped create a warm and welcoming atmosphere, and eased the audience into the show (and for many of whom, it may well have been their first time back to a theatre for a while!).
Without further ado, This Is My Theatre presented their version of The Secret Garden, in an 80 minute show. I’m not hugely familiar with the story in truth, but from what I could recall it seemed to be pretty true to the original classic Frances Hodgson Burnett book. The twist was that it was softly sound-tracked to folk music woven through-out the play.
The tale tells of young Mary Lennox, who is sent live with her uncle at his country estate in the Yorkshire moors, when her parent suddenly pass. It’s a far cry from India, where she grew up a spoiled and self-centred child. However, Mary soon discovers friendship and laughter with Martha the housemaid, Ben Weatherstaff the gardener, and a friendly robin who helps her discover a secret garden. Life for all those at the estate is set to alter for the better.
The show was presented by just four cast members, many of whom were undertaking multiple roles. The use of props was clever and creative, and there was some beautiful puppetry.
It made for a wonderful afternoon of entertainment, which was enjoyed by a wide-range of people and families, and it was a great production of this beloved children’s novel. I really loved the way This Is My Theatre presented the piece, and I would certainly be happy to see more from them in future productions.
Be sure to stay tuned for future work by This Is My Theatre and for the rest of the Summer season at Thorington Theatre. For more information on the upcoming shows visit thoringtontheatre.co.uk.