Goodnight Mister Tom by David Wood

based on the novel by Michelle Magorian

Click here for pictures of the production

Review by Jane Quicke in the Farnham Herald:

Superb production of wartime evacuee play

Profound poignancy and utter delight infused Tilbourne Players' production of 'Goodnight Mister Tom', which ran from November 16th to 18th in Tilford.

It follows the plight of a sickly, frightened young evacuee, William Beech, as he is billetted at the home of a reclusive, curmudgeonly old man, Thomas Oakley, during the second world war. The unlikely proximity of these two polar opposites forges unexpected healing and transformation in both of them.

Against a backdrop of appalling child abuse, the abject horror of young lives cut short in warfare, and the overwhelming grief of bereavement, we find as well the transformative, healing power of love and kindness, commitment to values of acceptance and forgiveness, and the strength of bonds with which to share the highs and lows of human existence. Tissues were compulsory.

Huge congratulations go to creative director David Brace and his excellent production team, headed by Rob Durrant, on their vision and execution of this heart-warming story.

The staging was inspired, the visual effects imaginative, the sound effects, incidental music and costumes so very apposite.

It was an excellent cast. Ian Wilson-Soppitt was Mister Tom - hard to imagine any other actor embodying this role more ably or sensitively. Thomas Cox (William Beech) gave a wonderfully authentic debut performance - aptly shell-shocked, scared and vulnerable. Megan Watts (Carrie), Clara Cox (Ginnie) and Frank Edwards (George) gave spirited performances, bringing fun and mischief to the story, while Alfie Barton (Zach) owned the stage with his impressive array of talant - singing, dancing and general bonhomie.

A special shout-out goes to Sammy the border collie, the undisputed darling of the show, expertly handled by puppeteer Philip Hutchinson. You had to look carefully to check whether he was real - you could see him breathing.

There were delightful cameos - the comic timing of ARP warden Joe Huddleston, the cockney cackle of Hilary Lee-Corbin (Gladys), the no-nonsense crispness of Maureen Collins (billeting officer/librarian), the remorseless awfulness of Anna Cox (Mrs Beech), the feisty remonstrances of Denise Mills (Miss Miller), the gentle warmth of Daisy Edwards (Mrs Fletcher/Social Worker), the ecclesiastical tones of James Durrant (vicar) and the reliability of Noel Thompson (postmaster/ARP warden) and Chris Angwin (ticket collector/policeman).

The cast included a mother and son (Mrs Fletcher/George) and a grandfather, daughter, granddaughter and grandson (Tom/Mrs Beech/Ginnie/William).

Jane Quicke