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Review: Goodnight Mr Tom by Harlow Theatre Company

Entertainment / Sat 16th Nov 2019 am30 11:25am

Review of Goodnight Mr Tom
Harlow Theatre Company

Review by Mr Coster and the pupils of Pemberley Academy

WHEN you are studying a theme or topic in school the opportunity to be able to physically access a live performance is a rare treat, but that is exactly what the children of Pemberley academy were able to do this week in Harlow Theatre company’s depiction of ‘Goodnight Mister Tom’ directed by Paul Johnson.

The show has sold out the four night run and had to add an additional matinee to cope with demand, which paints it’s own picture about the quality of performance at the Victoria Hall theatre in Old Harlow.

The story of a war time evacuee, William, who is sent from London to a small west country town to live with Mr Oakley, or Mister Tom as he is termed by the displaced child, is one of compassion, laughter, tears and joy and a highly talented cast of actors of all ages bought it alive beautifully. The costumes had been expertly chosen to add realism and the scenes of the play were interspersed with war time music or rousing speeches from then Prime Minister Winston Churchill adding additional atmosphere around what living in that period must have felt like.

Although performances across the board were faultless, a special mention must go to the extraordinarily talented Melissa Guest who assumed the role of Sammy, who is Mr Tom’s faithful dog and a central character. The audience, many of whom had read the story prior to seeing the show were wondering how this would be approached and a combination of outstanding method acting and puppetry by Melissa Guest accompanied with a quite astonishing puppet, designed by Izzy Lacey, meant that the character of Sammy was a huge joy, particularly for younger members of the audience, which with 2 schools in attendance taking up some 80 of the 120 seats available was absolutely key. During the interval comparisons with the West End show ‘War Horse’ were made, by seasoned theatre-goers, which is high praise indeed.

The quality of play on the stage was also duly matched by the warm and friendly welcome that Paul Johnson and his creative team extended to all of the audience members, making themselves available to chat about all aspects of the play and add a dimension that bought the whole experience alive.

Overall this depiction was fabulously put together, compassionately and enthusiastically delivered and bought Michelle Magorian’s novel, first published in 1981 to life, doing justice to what is a true classic of our times. Bravo.

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