Birmingham REP has a well established traditional of presenting lavishly designed festive treats year upon year. This year’s production of The Secret Garden - the last piece to be performed on the main stage before a two year refurbishment closure- is undeniably cleverly designed but somehow misses the mark in regards to the festivity of its predecessors.

During a rather slow paced first half we meet the young girl Mary Lennox, played by a charming Amy Lennox, who is orphaned and sent to live with her uncle on the lonely Yorkshire Moors.

Soon the bright young girl finds herself a friend in her uncle’s son, Colin, and aids him in his recovery from ill health through her discovery of a secret garden. James Gillan brings the character of Colin to life with fine voice and a comic approach to the boy's stubborn temperament who engages the audience with his personality.

Whilst soaring in places, Tim Sutton’s music can prove to be sporadic in its appearances and is need of being a little more fleshed out in terms of the number of musical interludes and the opportunity for singing from the productions protagonists.

The second half of the piece picks up a little in pace and the famous tale of the secret garden is indeed a charming one, however, some younger audience members may be bored by the longer scenes and lack of magic.

Whilst this is a satisfactory production, it lacks the warmth and sparkle that Christmas brings.

- Ben Wooldridge