A very good night with Mr Tom

CAMILLA GOOD­MAN re­views the Olivier award-win­ning Good­night Mis­ter Tom

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - REVIEW -

IFIRST came across Good­night Mis­ter Tom when at pri­mary school and we stud­ied the novel by

Michelle Mago­rian. The story has stuck with me since and so I was de­lighted to learn a stage ver­sion of Good­night Mis­ter Tom was com­ing to Ayles­bury Water­side Theatre.

Tak­ing my seat, I was greeted by what on first im­pres­sions looks like a very sim­plis­tic set.

The Dorset lo­ca­tion is sim­ply de­picted with an il­lus­tra­tion on a back­drop. There is a raised wooden plat­form in the cen­tre of the stage, and a few props, such as the frame of a door, a ta­ble and a chair.

I have seen bet­ter sets in ama­teur dra­matic per­for­mances, and so I was a lit­tle ap­pre­hen­sive about what was to fol­low.

How­ever, I had no rea­son to feel ap­pre­hen­sive be­cause what fol­lowed was two hours of pure de­light.

Bucks boy Alex Tay­lor-McDowall, who at­tends the Jackie Palmer Stage School in High Wy­combe, played the role of Wil­liam in this pro­duc­tion. He was quite sim­ply amaz­ing and por­trayed Wil­liam’s jour­ney from a with­drawn ner­vous wreck to a con­fi­dent bub­bly child won­der­fully. His fa­cial ex­pres­sions and body lan­guage re­ally helped por­tray the pain poor lit­tle Wil­liam goes through emo­tion­ally and phys­i­cally. I am con­fi­dent Alex will go on to be a big star.

An­other stand-out per­for­mance was from Wil­liam’s best friend Zach, played by 13-year-old Oliver Loades from Hert­ford­shire in this pro­duc­tion.

Zach is a colour­ful, larger than life char­ac­ter with a the­atri­cal back­ground and is a stark con­trast to Wil­liam.

It is Zach who de­liv­ers most of the most laugh-out-loud mo­ments in the show, of which there are many, which helps give comic re­lief in a show that tack­les dif­fi­cult and hard-hit­ting sub­jects.

Oliver was full of en­ergy from start to fin­ish and re­ally helped bring the show to life. Just like Alex, I think Oliver is go­ing to go on to achieve amaz­ing things.

The ti­tle char­ac­ter is played by David Troughton, known as a Shake­spearean ac­tor and TV roles in­clud­ing Dr Bob Buz­zard in A Very Pe­cu­liar Prac­tice and Ricky Hansen in New Tricks. He also plays Tony Archer in BBC Ra­dio 4’s The Archers, a role he took over in Jan­uary 2014.

He makes the per­fect Mis­ter Tom and takes the au­di­ence on a pow­er­ful jour­ney. He has a fan­tas­tic chem­istry with the rest of the cast, es­pe­cially Wil­liam, and some mo­ments will make you say ‘aww’ out loud.

An­other char­ac­ter he has great chem­istry with is Sammy his dog, which is a pup­pet mas­ter­fully brought to life by pup­peteer Elisa De Grey. Even she is vis­i­ble on stage, you soon for­get she is there fo­cus­ing all your at­ten­tion on Sammy, just as is the case in shows such as War Horse and The Lion King. As well as mov­ing Sammy beau­ti­fully, De Grey also does all of Sammy’s vo­cals, which were so good I ac­tu­ally thought it was a record­ing!

It is also worth giv­ing Melle Ste­wart a men­tion, who plays two very con­trast­ing char­ac­ters in the show. We first see her as the sweet, kind and gen­tle school teacher An­nie Har­tridge. How­ever, Melle also takes on the role of Wil­liam’s mother Mrs Beech.

The show changes pace and takes on a darker tone in Act II when Wil­liam is forced to leave the life he has be­come to love in Dorset has re­turn to his sick mother in Lon­don.

It is then the set comes to life, as the wooden plat­form raises up­right to re­veal a cold, colour­less and unloved Lon­don home and the bru­tal re­al­ity of Wil­liam’s home life is re­vealed.

The show tack­les some ex­tremely hard-hit­ting is­sues but they are han­dled in a sen­si­tive way, mak­ing it per­fect for young and old au­di­ence mem­bers alike.

Good­night Mis­ter Tom is a beau­ti­ful heart-warm­ing show that will make you love those you are close to that lit­tle bit more. But what­ever you do, don’t for­get the tis­sues!

The pro­duc­tion is on tour un­til May 21. For more in­for­ma­tion visit www.good­night­mis­ter­tom.co.uk.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.