Writer: Michelle Magorian
Stage Adaptation: David Wood
Director: Angus Jackson
Reviewer: Megan Pearce
Goodnight Mister Tom is fast becoming a Great British classic. The story; originally adapted from a book, became a BAFTA award-winning TV filmand is now an enthralling and emotional theatre tour.
Set in 1939, Britain is on the brink of war with Germany, and lots of ‘towny’ children are being evacuated to the countryside. William is covered in bruises, wets the bed, and is in much need of some kindness. The story begins as young William is paired with Tom Oakley – a grumpy old man, who keeps himself to himself. Mister Oakley, or Mister Tom as he is later fondly known, is played by David Troughton. The character of Mister Tom is known so well as being played by John Thaw in the TV adaptations – it makes for rather large boots to fill. Troughtonis wonderful to watch, faultless throughout, and manages to tug on the heartstrings at any spare moment.
Sammy the dog plays a massive part in the show. The dog is there, in puppet form all the way through. The dog is very similar to the way the puppets are operated in War Horse, to the point that you forget a puppeteer is on stage.
In Angus Jackson’s interpretation, the stage and scenery is quite sparse – leaving much more to the imagination. The use of sounds, bird and squirrel puppets help to set the scene in an effective way – that children and adults alike would find fun. The scene seamlessly changes from London to Dorset with posters akin to the period, there are no awkward blackouts, the play flows along with your thought pattern. War songs are repeatedly hummed and sung, for instance whenever someone has to leave the village and return to London – it brings back emotional memories of the act before.
The story changes from delightful humour; giving you a warm glow inside, to crushing grief. This play is an emotional roller coaster, where you will cry happy and sad tears. A full box of tissues recommended. It also serves as a stark reminder of how a world war shaped our communities and our future.
The only niggle about this productionis that some of the words were lost, whether that was due to gabbling lines or sound issues is not known, but a slight and minor fault on an otherwise faultless production.
Runs until 14 May 2016 | Image: Contributed
Related article: INTERVIEW – David Troughton on Becoming Mister Tom