Three years after winning an Olivier for Best Entertainment and Family show and charming crowds and critics on the West End, Goodnight Mister Tom returns to London for a short ten week run this winter.
The charming Chichester Festival Theatre production is based on Michelle Magorian's multi-award-winning book about a little boy's experience as an evacuee in WWII. With heart-wrenching drama and warm humour, the story is captivating on stage in writer David Wood's adaptation. The staging celebrates the simplicity of wartime rural life with witty touches including a village doctor chuffing on a cigar, shy red squirrels, and a lovable shaggy sheepdog, animated brilliantly by puppeteer Elisa de Grey.
When a bruised, skittish William Beech is sent to live with crotchety old Mister Tom in the countryside, the pair form an unlikely friendship. But just as the shy little boy starts to blossom, he is summoned back to this old life to a mother who's increasingly unstable and a city blighted by the blitz.
Actor David Troughton (RSC, National Theatre) is the exact combination of warm and gruff readers of the book expect from Mister Tom. We were blinking back tears as the lonely only window thawed and grew increasingly fond of his charge. And as the bleak, realities of William's life back in London came into sharp focus, we were sobbing. Those that are unfamiliar with Magorian's book should be warned: the realities of abuse, deprivation and warfare are not sugar-coated for kids. The sweetness of the story is juxtaposed with traumatic details, which at one point made us gasp with horror. But it's by no means all gloomy. Director Angus Jackson's production brings out both the tenderness of the tale without any cheesiness.
It's too nuanced for smaller children, but we were amazed by how engaged our 10-year-old reviewer remained throughout the show. She was fascinated by the wartime details, such as gas masks and bomb shelters, and deeply moved by William's suffering. But most of all, she was delighted by the snuffling, tail-wagging sheepdog.
Recommended for children age 10+
|What||Goodnight Mister Tom, Duke of York's Theatre review|
|Where||Duke of York's Theatre, St Martin's Lane, London, WC2N 4BG | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Covent Garden (underground)|
11 Dec 15 – 20 Feb 16, 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM
|Website||Click here to book via ATG Tickets|