Goodnight Mr. Tom
|Date||26th August 2017|
|Society||Alnwick Theatre Club|
|Venue||The Playhouse, Alnwick|
|Type of Production||Play|
|Director||Peter Biggers, Glenda Fricke|
Author: Kath Curry
I have not seen this play before so looked forward to it with anticipation and I was not disappointed. The clever design and dressing of this open set was simply superb and so, we just knew we were in for a treat. We were…….in every aspect, fully engaged and this company once again gave us an evening of nostalgia, emotion and excellent acting. The set designed by Peter and Glenda was authentic and worked so well and with the efforts of enthusiastic and perfectionist Carol Lawrence to source props and dress the stage, we were immediately transported into the ‘Second World War’. Carol also provided an excellent display of photos in the bar which was a lovely touch. As ever with Virginia Mayes Wright stage manager and Mick Grant assistant everything moved effortlessly and quickly between scenes. The creative lighting design by Andy Hunt was superb and really enhanced the whole play and was very clever and creative especially the scene in the air-raid shelter. The sound and sound effects were spot on and I thought the choice of music to accompany the scenes and changes was extremely well thought out, and provoked memories of this era. Attention in detail to hair and costumes all added to the look of the play to ensure everything was just right.
Starting during the dark and dangerous days in the build-up to the ‘Second World War’, Good night Mr. Tom follows young William Beech who is evacuated from inner London, from a life of squalor and abuse, to idyllic English countryside where he builds up a remarkable and moving friendship with widower recluse Tom Oakley. Goodnight Mr. Tom is a tale of two broken souls at different ends of life that celebrates the power of love and proves that friendship knows no barriers. This very poignant story and its roller coaster emotional ride could not fail to involve the audience and ATC made sure we had lumps in our throats. They brought the content gloriously to life in every aspect and the cast obviously had worked very hard to understand and deliver their individual characters.
Gary Brown as Tom Oakley still mourning his wife and son delivered a superb performance in his translation as a grumpy old man to a very sensitive man and was very believable and convincing. William Bush (Cameron Cullen) and Zach (Archie Braid) were perfect in their demanding and challenging roles and are to be congratulated for their maturity in playing these parts. Cameron being the shy and sensitive boy had many demands on stage in all the various scenes and situations and handled them superbly. Zack had perfected his comedy role and had such stage presence and commanded the stage whenever he was on. Two lovely performances and with the supporting youth cast they were a credit to the society.
The overall cast / ensemble fully contributed to the plot and there wasn’t a weak link. The play was extremely well cast, and all in their roles evoked humour and sensitivity. In particular I loved the little scene in the air-raid shelter between Mr. Tom and Gladys (Jean Goodfellow). Such a lovely poignant moment and acted with with such quiet but intensive calm and shows what skill these actors have. It’s always said never work with animals, in this case was totally wrong. The dog ‘Sammy’ (Lenny) was incredible and he was on stage most of the time. He certainly almost stole the show as he did everything required and more besides and I am sure many of us would have like to have taken him home.
It was evident that the whole show was a team effort and the thought provoking moments, great acting and high energy gave us an evening to remember. Alnwick Theatre Club should be proud yet again of another wonderful evening of entertainment. Well done everyone!