Tuesday, 26 April 2016

REVIEW: Goodnight Mister Tom at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking

The Olivier award-winning Chichester Festival Theatre production of Goodnight Mister Tom returns to the stage starring David Troughton (The Archers).

Now a modern classic, 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.  All is perfect until William is suddenly summoned by his mother back to London.

This is a truly wonderful production with lots to offer for audience members of all ages. The use of puppets in this show is so creative, it’s bordering on magical. There are crows, squirrels and dogs which are nothing short of enchanting. Elisa De Grey as Sammy (Mister Tom’s dog) was outstanding. De Grey uses a puppet dog made up of a light-weight wire head and body, and loose fabric legs and tail. The movements created were so life-like, it was almost hypnotic. Even when Sammy was not moving around, but was sleeping by Mister Tom’s feet, De Grey kept the puppet breathing; ears twitching, tail gently wagging, as if in a dream, and snoring – just like a real dog. Attention to detail was exceptional, and ‘Sammy’ is probably the thing I’ll remember most about this production. 

From the child cast, Freddy Hawkins as William Beech was heart-wrenchingly good. His Act II performance was superb. While his stage-tears could use some work, at only 11 years-old, taking on a role like this which requires such intense character development, I’m not going to criticise. He did brilliantly.  Supporting Hawking was Harrison Noble as the stagiest child you ever will meet, Zach. He was lovable, witty and charismatic. A great addition to the cast. 

David Troughton as Thomas Oakley is marvellous. His gentleness and paternal nature made Mister Tom all the more
likeable, and a character the audience could not only connect with, but root for. His most poignant acting came from scenes in which he didn’t even speak. So much can be said with Troughton’s eyes – it was a wonder to watch. 

Goodnight Mister Tom has been a favourite novel and film for audiences around the world for years, and this production is another fantastic interpretation of this heart-warming, tear-jerking and life-affirming tale. This tour offers a fantastic evening’s entertainment for the whole family to enjoy. A charming production with real heart.

Review by Harriet Langdown 


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