I only have a vague recollection of Michelle Magorian’s children’s novel Goodnight Mr Tom from watching the film and TV series some years ago, but I do remember it being a wonderful story with sad, yet powerful moments. Set in a little village in 1941 we see children evacuated from London. A completely different life for some, and especially for the little boy in ‘Mr Tom’s’ care. The audience were taken through the transition of William to life in the country; his visit back to his difficult home in London with his negligent mother, and back to the country. Poor little William had a lot to contend with in his short life, and things didn’t get much better when he went through further losses when back in the village.
In my opinion Louth Playgoers have a great track record of putting on productions that audiences want to see, and this play was no exception; they performed to nearly sell out audiences every night and justifiably so as the whole show was professional, entertaining, engaging and dramatic. I went on the second night, Wednesday 6th December, with a few friends and family, and every one of us thoroughly enjoyed the performance.
The cast overall were brilliant and worked together really well, but I want to mention just a few individuals; I thought Tom Oakley ‘Mr Tom’, played by John Elliot was totally believable and gave a compelling performance, emotional, heartfelt and engaging. William Beech, the young evacuee was played wonderfully by Robert Husband, I totally felt for him all the way through; he showed timidity, the difficult circumstances he’d come from and his difficult background could really be seen in how he portrayed that character. Another standout performance for me was the role of Zacharius Wrench, played by Ben Jones. I did hear after the show that this was Ben’s first ever performance so I can’t wait to see what he does next. His character, exuberance and larger than life personality really shone out in every scene.
Congratulations to the whole cast, you could feel the emotion, through both the happy and the more difficult to watch scenes and most of the audience left with more that a little tear in their eyes.
This is the first production that Daniel Wakefield has Directed at the Riverhead Theatre; Daniel said in the programme “it was daunting… there was 18 different locations to change throughout the show”; he said he wanted to keep the set simple without the need for major set changes. This worked really well as the set was indeed simple, but with a few changes here and there, transformed very cleverly from one location to another, keeping the story and the dialogue moving throughout. Two other elements were also brought into the show that I enjoyed; puppetry and projection; the snippets of film really transported the audience back to the time of the story; my mum certainly enjoyed re-living some of the experiences of her childhood during the second world war as she watched with me. And although I enjoyed the puppet dog, which also worked really well, the audiences laughter as they reacted to the dog in certain emotional moments was a little distracting and a bit unnecessary.
Well done also to the backstage crew including wardrobe and set design and build and the sound and lighting crew. A brilliant job; and another well done to Daniel Wakefield, Director (also responsible for designing and operating the lighting) and Laura Martin, Assistant Director. I’ll look forward to seeing some more future performances!
To see other up coming performances at Louth Riverhead Theatre please look at their website https://louthriverheadtheatre.com for ‘What’s on’