Based on the novel by Michelle Magorian this production celebrates the 30th anniversary of the books publication.
Set at the very beginning of the Second World War, William Beech (Arthur Gledhill-Franks on this occasion) is evacuated to Dorset. He is put into the care of village recluse Tom Oakley (Oliver Ford Davies) after a request from his God fearing mother that he be placed with a church family or near a church. It soon becomes clear that William has been mistreated by his mother, he is covered in bruises and is a timid child. With time and care from Tom and the rest of the village William blossoms, until a telegram comes from his ill mother in London ordering him to return.
The stage is filled with strong characters and performances. The child actors playing William and Zach (Joseph Holgate) carry much of the weight of the show. While Gledhill-Franks displays the vulnerability of William, Holgates highly confident and positive Zach portrays the contrast in the boys backgrounds. Oliver Ford Davies takes Tom Oakley from curmudgeonly old man to Father figure in an entrancing performance. The unenviable task of playing Williams abusive Mother goes to Aoife McMahon, who also plays Miss Hartridge the teacher. She portrays the two characters at opposite ends of the spectrum with equal flair. Special mention has to go to Elisa De Grey who operates the puppet of Sammy, Tom’s dog, in full view. The mannerisms and sounds bring the puppet to life
Clever use of the seemingly simple set (designed by Robert Innes Hopkins) transports you from a sunny Dorset village to an austere grey London in an original and effective way.
Your heart strings will be pulled after an emotional journey that takes you from delight to despair and back again. An enjoyable performance.
Goodnight Mister Tom plays at the New Alexandra Theatre until Saturday 13 April.