Wilma’s Rating [rating=4]
Goodnight Mister Tom is a wonderful story that has carried through the ages, from a children’s book (by Michelle Magorian), to the 1998 film and now done justice by this wonderful show that is brought to life perfectly for the stage.
It tells the war time story of William Beech, played tonight by Ewan Harris, who is (amongst many others) evacuated from the bombs of London to Dorset. A shy boy who comes from an abusive home, given a real chance at a happy life by being placed with (the at first reluctant) Mr Tom, who has struggled to let love into his life since his wife Rachel died 40 years before.
Mr Tom is played by Oliver Ford Davies who’s theatre credits include 27 productions at the Royal Shakespeare Company and a string of TV and film productions to his name. Oliver has a touching connection to the Phoenix Theatre as his wife (Jenifer Armitage) is the granddaughter of the man who built the theatre (Victor Luxemburg) in 1930.
Comedy is brought to the show by Zach (also an evacuee), played tonight by William Price, his characters theatrical upbringing leaves him with a confidence that is rare in children. Reciting lines from plays (not always correctly) like ‘to be or not to be, that is the indigestion’! The acting is faultless by the entire cast, adults and children alike.
The animals in this show are played by puppeteers, something becoming increasingly more popular since The Lion King and War Horse came to the west end.
The only thing I can mark this show down for is the song that is sung to send the children off back home to London. I felt that (although it was short) it lasted longer than needed and had an Oliver Twist-esq sound to it that it really didn’t need.
Cleverly staged for just 9 weeks in the west end before heading out on tour, it makes no pretense to be a glitzy west end show but is something that deserves to be seen by everyone during this short time.
Don’t miss out on this touchingly heartwarming story that will leave you with a tear in your eye.
Goodnight Mister Tom plays at London’s Phoenix Theatre until 26th January 2013.