CREAGH/CARR REVIEW: Goodnight Mister Tom
The Creagh/Carr Review is one man down as my colleague Stewart Carr is away. So the only opinion you'll be getting, dear reader, is mine . . .
It’s always tricky seeing certain roles performed by actors other than those in the TV original, and it took me a while to get used to David Troughton as Mister Tom when I could still see John Thaw so clearly in the part.
But by the end of the first act he’d wound his way firmly into my heart, along with Joe Reynolds as vulnerable evacuee William Beech and Sonny Kirby as bouncy Zach – two 11-year-olds who surely have a brilliant future ahead of them in the theatre.
But the absolute show stopper was Sammy the dog, deftly manipulated by puppeteer Elisa de Grey. He was so lifelike in every way – head cocked to one side, jumping up in excitement, tail thumping and making typical doggy noises – that the only give-aways were his flapping material legs.
The story is both powerful and poignan. And the various characters William gets to know in the Devon village to which he is evacuated have an almost Enid Blyton Famous Five feel to them, all jolly hockey sticks and lashings of ginger beer, albeit slightly reined in for the war effort.
There are lots of wonderful cameos – Simon Markey as Dr Little/Ticket Collector, Jane Milligan as Mrs Fletcher/Glad/Social Worker and Guy Lewis as the vicar – but the action is really around William and Mister Tom, who’s been mourning his wife for 40 years.
It’s only looking after the badly abused little boy that Mister Tom starts to live again. And young William – whose mad mother had locked him in a cupboard with his dying baby sister – throws off his dejected stance and blossoms as an aspiring artist.
Even the bitter sweet ending has the feel good factor, as William stops grieving for his pal Zach and celebrates their friendship instead.
> Goodnight Mister Tom is on at MK Theatre until Saturday, Match 5. Tickets from www.atgtickets.com