Today Jamie and I had a wonderfully emotional experience as we watched Goodnight Mr Tom. Jamie played the part of William Beech during the previous run of the show and remembers this time with extreme fondness. He enjoyed the opportunity to perform but in this case, he particularly related to the openness and sensitivity of the boy he was playing.
The superb story, based on the novel by Michelle Magorian, highlights the value of human relationships particularly to those who are weak and vulnerable. At the heart of the story is the warm and generous bond that develops between the emotionally wounded Mr Tom Oakley and the neglected young William Beech. We watch their unlikely friendship grow throughout the show. David Troughton is outstanding in the role of the guarded and saddened Mr Oakley and the young actor playing William, endeared himself to the audience from the start.
We were so invested in the previous production that neither of us really knew how we would feel about watching it again with an unfamiliar cast. The current production did not disappoint. Each performer is fabulous in the role and they gel perfectly together as a team. The young boy playing Zack in this afternoon’s performance achieved the balance between kindness and exuberance and added laughter and fun to an otherwise sad tale.
The simple set is a perfect backdrop for this poignant story and doesn’t detract from the performers in any way. The wonderful use of puppetry, especially with regards to the dog Sammy, skilfully played by Elisa de Grey, adds a special dimension to the show. At times one completely forgets that Sammy is in fact a puppet. The realism of the puppet and the unobtrusiveness of the puppeteer are a perfect combination.
The story reflects the human experience of war which is so easily forgotten amidst idealism and hate. It touches on mental illness, foster care, abuse and many of the horrors that continue in our modern society. It does this so gently, via this beautiful story thereby encouraging understanding and empathy.
The “small adults” in this cast are particularly convincing and I was particularly impressed by Clark Devlin in the role of George.
This is a wonderful heart-warming production that will continue to be enjoyed by many audiences to come. It appeals to adults and children alike and is the perfect Christmas outing as it focuses on giving and the needs of others.
Jamie felt that even though (as a former William Beech) he knew the story, “the outstanding production still kept me on my toes.”
Jamie writes: The bond of William Beech and Mr Tom, just as the show says “tugs at the heart strings”. The comic relief of Zack never gets old, so when his tragic death occurs and sends William sobbing, it gets the audience sobbing. I could tell by the smile on Zack and Williams’ faces at the curtain call that they enjoyed it every bit of it – just like I did.
Review by Cindy and Jamie Goldberg
Goodnight Mr Tom
David Troughton, who is currently the voice of Tony Archer on BBC Radio 4’s long-running British contemporary rural drama, The Archers, takes to the stage as Mister Oakley and is joined by an ensemble cast featuring Clark Devlin, Elisa de Grey, Guy Lewis, Simon Markey, Abigail Matthews, Jane Milligan, Martha Seignior, James Staddon, Melle Stewart, Georgina Sutton and Hollie Taylor.
Six talented young performers have been cast in the key roles of William and Zach. Joe Reynolds, Freddy Hawkins and Alex Taylor-McDowall will alternate the role of William and Sonny Kirby, Harrison Noble and Oliver Loades will alternate as Zach. Please note the production images feature Alex Taylor-McDowall (William) and Oliver Loades (Zach).
The novel Goodnight Mister Tom is now a modern classic and is celebrating its 35th anniversary. Michelle Magorian’s wonderfully uplifting tale is brought gloriously to life in this magical stage adaptation by David Wood. Set during the dangerous build up to the Second World War, Goodnight Mister Tom follows young William Beech, who is evacuated to the idyllic English countryside and forges a remarkable and heart-warming friendship with the elderly recluse, Tom Oakley.
GOODNIGHT MR TOM
By DAVID WOOD
From the classic novel by Michelle Magorian
Director ANGUS JACKSON
Designer ROBERT INNES HOPKINS
Lighting Designer TIM MITCHELL
Sound Designer GREGORY CLARKE
Composer MATTHEW SCOTT
Puppet designer and director TOBY OLIÉ
Choreographer LIZZI GEE
Goodnight Mr Tom
Duke of York’s Theatre
45 St Martin’s Lane, London, WC2N 4BG
Running time: 2 hours 15 minutes
11th December 2015 – 21st February 2016