facebook play-alt chevron-thin-right chevron-thin-left cancel location info chevron-thin-down star-full help-with-circle calendar images mail whatsapp directions_car directions_bike train directions_walk directions_bus close spinner11

Goodnight Mister Tom

Published 28 November 2012

With Penelope Skinner’s recent adaptation of Aleksei Arbuzov’s The Promise and the impending opening of Peter Nichols’ Privates On Parade, the Second World War seems to be a popular topic in Theatreland at the moment.

Adding to the collection yesterday was family favourite Goodnight Mister Tom, which has been adapted for the stage by acclaimed children’s playwright David Wood, whose adaptation of The Go-Between took home the award for Best New Musical, ahead of the Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton-led Sweeney Todd, at the Theatre Awards UK last month.

Wood’s adaptation of Goodnight Mister Tom stays true to Michelle Magorian’s much-loved tale about a young boy evacuated to the Dorset countryside during World War II. Leaving his violent and traumatic home life behind him, William finds himself in the care of elderly recluse Tom Oakley who, in this heart-warming story of friendship, grows to love his new-found companion and goes to desperate lengths to ensure he remains safely in his custody.

Oliver Ford Davies reprises his role as the title character having previously played Mister Tom in the premiere production at Chichester Festival Theatre earlier in the year. The Olivier Award-winning actor’s performance is all consonants and no vowels; his words barely distinguishable amid the disgruntled groans and thick West Country accent of the initially reluctant guardian. However, as the play progresses and his relationship with William begins to blossom, a long-needed feeling of happiness can be seen emerging from under Mister Tom’s furrowed brow as the grumpy old man develops into an altogether more coherent and endearing figure.

Ewan Harris injects a loveable naivety and nervous fear into his performance as the lonely and illiterate William who is more worried about avoiding his next beating than making friends. The yang to his yin, William Price’s Zach perfectly encapsulates the vibrant and eccentric wannabe thespian who bounds across the stage as he bounces from page to page in Magorian’s novel.

Simply staged on a raised brick platform – which later in the production reveals a dark and disturbing secret – with bordering gravestones from the cemetery beside Mister Tom’s house, Angus Jackson’s sharp and polished production is as heart-warming as it is gut-wrenching.

Toby Olié breathes life into the lively Dorset countryside with his cleverly designed puppets, which allow birds to circle overhead and squirrels to scamper up trees, while Elisa de Grey conjures every sniff, twitch and yelp of Mister Tom’s furry companion whose movements become so natural you begin to forget the presence of the unobtrusive puppeteer.

This may be a children’s story but that doesn’t make it any less harrowing. Touching on subjects such as child abuse, single parent families, suicide and war deaths, it is unlikely there was a dry eye amongst the audience of school children, press and even real-life evacuees of the Second World War by the end of yesterday’s opening performance.


Sign up

Related articles

Due to the current pandemic various venues and productions are making announcements for their individual shows. Please bear with us as we try to keep this page as up to date as possible. If you find a mistake, please let us know by emailing enquiries@soltukt.co.uk. If you click through to seat selection (where you'll see either best available or a seating plan), you will be seeing the most up-to-date prices. If this differs from what we've written on the calendar, please bear with us, as those prices will update soon.

We now sell our famous TKTS Booth discounts online here at Official London Theatre.

We are now cancelling all performances up until and including 31 May 2020 to help us process existing bookings whilst we wait for further clarity from the government in terms of when we will be able to reopen.

We are so sorry that in these testing and difficult times you are not able to enjoy the show you have booked for and hope the following helps clarify next steps in respect of your tickets .

There is nothing that you need to do if your performance has been cancelled, but we do ask for your patience.

If you have booked directly with the theatre or show website for an affected performance, please be assured that they will contact you directly to arrange an exchange for a later date, a credit note/voucher or a refund. If you have booked via a ticket agent they will also be in contact with you directly.

We are processing in strict date order of performance, so you are likely to be contacted after the date you were due to go to the theatre. However, we want to reassure you that you will be contacted, and your order will be processed, but please do bear with us.

We’d like to thank everyone who has been patient and kind in dealing with their ticket providers so far and we are sorry that we cannot process your order as quickly as we would like.

Please do not contact your credit card company as that will slow the process down and put an additional burden on our box office and ticket agent teams.

In order for us to serve our audiences the best we can, please do not get in touch with your point of sale if you have booked for performances after 31 May. Please be reassured that if we have to cancel future performances you will be directly contacted by your theatre or ticket provider. Our producers continue to plan for all eventualities dependent on the individual needs of their shows and we will provide further updates on specific shows as and when they become available.

We look forward to welcoming you back into our theatres as soon as we are allowed to resume performances. In the meantime stay safe and healthy.

While theatres are currently closed, various venues and productions are making announcements for their individual shows, including cancellations and rescheduled performances. Please check with the individual shows for details.