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Goodnight Mister Tom- Phoenix Theatre

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#1 Pharaoh's number 2

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 08:10 PM

Caught this yesterday- a solid stage adaptation, not dumbed down as a kids show. It's along the same lines as Tom Morris' production of Swallows and Amazons which I raved about last year. Proper family theatre, speaking to everyone. Angus Jackson's staging is v inventive - some great use of puppetry, and audio clips providing a historical and social context. Oliver Ford-Davies is superb as Mr Tom, couldn't be better. Some of the acting from the supporting child actors is a bit one-dimensional, but that maybe the material itself. Hard to tell. The two lead boys though are excellent. Not knowing the story beforehand, I didn't realise quite how serious the themes are- religious intolerance and child abuse being two. But it doesn't gloss over them; it tackles them head on, making some scenes hard to watch. And it's v moving too.

The opening was too quick for me: after no more than a minute, Mr Tom had his evacuee. I'd have liked a bit more setting, easing in to it. But maybe that's to get kids' attention straight away? Dunno. But it's well worth a look, just don't go to a mid-week matinee like I did. I thought the schools would have just gone back, so no school trips on the first couple of days, but how wrong was I? Heaving with school groups, me in the minority. Wish teacher wouldn't tell their group to go to the loo 2 mins before curtain up. Cue group of kids coming back in to find their seats a few minutes into Act 1.....

#2 Honoured Guest

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 10:56 PM

This was one of my 2011 highlights and a terrific start to the Children's Touring Partnership. P#2, you normally crow about Chichester Festival Theatre shows hitting London and I totally support you on this one. I saw this same production in a full house when it first toured two years ago, also with Oliver Ford Davies. My lead lead boy was also excellent and the other lead boy was good, if a bit on the winsome side. Of course they alternate child casts. I didn't see Swallows and Amazons, the second Children's Touring Partnership show, but wasn't that more stylised with adults playing children and also with songs? This is a traditional straightforward staging, although with a very powerful set change. My then eleven year old niece saw it twice (with school and with family) and could differentiate the alternate child leads.

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