Goodnight Mr Tom
by David Wood.
Adapted from the book by Michelle Magorian.
The British Theatre Academy at
Southwark Playhouse, the Little, 77-85 Newington Causeway, London Se1 6BD to 25 August 2018.
Mon-Sat 8pm. Mat Tues & Sat 3.30pm.
Runs 2 hr One interval.
Review: William Russell 31 July
A heart-warming tale about a little boy lost in wartime
David Wood’s play is the first to open in the works which The British Theatre Academy will present at the Southwark Playhouse over the coming weeks. There are several casts, which allows the pupils at the Academy a chance to display their skills but those named here are the players on press night.
It is about an evacuee, William Beech ( a touching Evan Huntley-Robertson) who is sent from London to live in Weirwold, an idyllic country village where he is billeted on a grumpy middle aged widower, the Tom of the title (a terrific performance from 16 year-old James Sampson).
The little boy has been ill-treated by his mother, who is very peculiar indeed, and is covered in bruises and wounds from the ill treatment she has meted out. He is also illiterate. But Mr Tom, who is doing his duty by taking in an evacuee – it is just before war breaks out – is actually, beneath the grumpy façade, a kindly, lonely soul and life improves for both him and William.
Lots of things happen as William finds happiness, but in Act Two, when he is sent back to his mother, things get rather grim although, give or take a death or three – it is, after all wartime – there is a happy ending.
The large cast have been slickly drilled by director Jo Kirkland, Wood tells his tale well, even if at times it does seem like one darn thing after another is befalling the hapless William, and as a showcase for the talents of the Academy pupils both play and production could not be bettered.
There are nice touches like the lady announcer on the radio played by Rachel Kelly who speaks in authentic 1940s tones, something which could have been easily ignored, and the use of popular song of the time especially Gracie Fields’ Wish Me Luck as You Wave Me Goodbye. As Zach, the son of actors also evacuated to Weirwold, an extrovert child, Felix Hepburn dazzles in a flamboyant role, there is a super collie dog called Sammy (stuffed naturally) manipulated brilliantly by Bradley Riches. Next week the older pupils at the Academy have their turn to when they present a musical called Bring It On in the Large, Southwark’s other auditorium.
Tom: James Sampson.
William: Evan Huntley-Robertson.
Zach: Felix Hepburn.
George: Edward Flynn-Haddon.
Sammy: Bradley Riches.
Mrs Beech: Allie Aylott.
Mrs Hartridge/Nurse: Charlotte Gamble.
Miss Miller/Glad: Cassia Cooper.
Thorne: Millie Brolly.
Mrs Fletcher/Social Worker: Taylor Smith-Chandler.
Mr Miller/ARP Warden: Oliver Parsons.
Charlie: Billy Boreham.
Little/Ticket Collector: Kai Davies.
Stelton: William Kettle.
Vicar: Alex Siminov.
Mr Hartridge/Policeman: Charlie Bignali.
Carrie: Valentina Cervesi.
Ginnie: Elena Cervesi.
Billeting Officer: Cara McTiernan.
Radio Voice/Sister: Rachel Kelly.
Evacuees: Chloe Gray, Lila Alfonso, Maddie Spencer, Holly Perring, Cerys Fisher & Izzy Bowden.
Director: Jo Kirkland.
Set & Costume Designer: P J McEvoy.
Lighting Designer: Gregory Jordan.
Sound Designer: Aaron Barker.
Production Photographer: Eliza Wilmot.