6th November 2023
Michael Morpurgo is very much a household name when it comes to children’s novels and I certainly read many of his books growing up. An Elephant in the Garden isn’t a book I’ve read or come across but I was still intrigued to see this production from Poonamallee Productions, in collaboration with the Barn Theatre and association with Exeter Northcott Theatre. This is a beautiful story, wonderfully adapted and written for the stage, and very well performed. It tells the story of Lizzie, her mother and an elephant who flee a bombing in Germany in World War 2. It is a heartfelt and interesting insight into life in Germany, a story that we don’t often see told in Britain.
Morpurgo’s book has been adapted by Simon Reade, who also directed the production. He has done a brilliant job at telling a beautiful story with limited set and props and only one performer. His writing is beautiful, with a wide range of emotions shown. Max Johns design is simple but effective, although equally I wasn’t entirely sure what the set was supposed to be. It did make me think of an elephant though! Matthew Graham’s lighting design is excellent and really brings the production to life, helping to differentiate different locations and atmospheres. Jason Barnes must also be praised for his sound design – radio excerpts, which have been created especially for the show by Chris Bianchi, are used creatively to paint a picture of what’s going on in the wider world.
This production has a cast of only one: Alison Reid. She performs the show exceptionally. For the entirety of the one hour-long play, she has a huge amount of energy which keeps the audience engrossed in the story she is telling. She does an excellent job playing the numerous different characters who appear and sometimes I found myself forgetting I was only watching one actor! Reid really does a tremendous job in this high energy, yet emotive and moving piece of theatre.
An Elephant in the Garden is a heartwarming story, told excellently on stage and captured brilliantly on screen. This will definitely entertain not just young people but people of all ages. It’s a wonderful theatrical treat for the Easter break!
Get your tickets here now! They cost just £13.50 and you get 24 hours access to the show from the performance time, so you can watch it whenever suits you.