Goodnight Mr Tom by David Wood adapted from Michelle Magorian
Step on Stage Academy
Hampton Hill Theatre - 14 January 2019
An Enthusiastic Ensemble Piece
Goodnight Mr Tom
by David Wood adapted from Michelle Magorian
Step on Stage Productions at Hampton Hill Theatre until 12th January
A review by Matthew Grierson
There is such an exuberance among the young cast of Goodnight Mr Tom, but given the task of channelling their enthusiasm, directors Emma McCauley-Tinniswood and Maria Austin manage to ensure that the beats of the story are clear while also allowing us to warm to the characters.
Energy and choreography are alike apparent from the start, with the large ensemble briskly milling around on stage to signify the hustle of a railway station in 1939: parents are seeing their children off as they are evacuated to the countryside. Their enforced cheeriness comes through in a rousing chorus of Wish Me Luck as You Wave Me Goodbye, one of a number of wartime standards that recurs throughout the production to showcase the all-round talent of the cast.
The mood is dampened by the appearance of Mrs Beech (Hope Groizard) like a stormcloud across the back balcony, and the singing falls silent as she escorts her son William (Jasper Simmons) on to the platform. Groizard’s performance is legitimately terrifying, irrationally snapping at her son and completely dismissing his story of friendly country folk.
However, once William is out of his mother’s shadow he begins to bloom, and in the care of elderly widower Tom Oakley (Andrew Rhodes), finds a place he can call home among new friends and surrogate family. As the titular Mr Tom, Rhodes communicates his brusqueness and initial distance from his charge at first, but once he softens, it means his relationship with William is that of an older brother with his junior sibling. When Tom puts a friendly, consoling hand on William’s shoulder, the moment feels well earned.
Characters are picked out in a spotlight to suggest their isolation, as happens at various moments for Tom, William and the latter’s new friend Zak. In some ways it’s surprising Jasmine Carmody, tonight’s Zak, requires lighting at all given how brightly both she and the character shine … …
Read Matthew Grierson’s full review at www.markaspen.wordpress.com/2019/01/11/mr-tom/
Photography courtesy of Step on Stage Academy
An Enthusiastic Ensemble Piece Goodnight Mr Tom by