Thursday, 10 March 2011

Goodnight Mr Tom - Review by Vidar Hardjeng

Review of audio described performance of ‘Goodnight Mr Tom’ on the evening of Friday 11 February 2011 at The Wolverhampton Grand.

After a long week and hectic week – and even thought theatre tickets have been booked in advance - it is sometimes a bit of a struggle to get into theatre mode. This was certainly the case on Friday 11 February, but I am so pleased that I did get on the train from Birmingham to Wolverhampton as that evening’s audio described performance of Goodnight Mr Tom at the Grand, is one of the best things I have seen on stage for some time.

Michelle MaGorian’s stunning novel is brought to life with this brand new stage adaptation by David Wood, described by the Times as ‘the UK’s national children’s dramatist’. Set during the dark and dangerous build-up to the Second World War, this follows the moving and remarkable friendship between a young evacuee and an elderly recluse. All seems perfect until William is summoned by his mother back to London.

First published in 1981 this enduring classic won the Guardian’s Children’s Fiction Prize, and the BAFTA award winning TV adaptation, starring the late John Thaw, attracted 14 million viewers. This production featured the Olivier award-winning actor Oliver Ford Davies in the role of Tom Oakley. Although I was unable to arrive n time for the pre-show touch tour other visually impaired patrons and their companions had found it useful to be taken on stage to explore the set, notably Mr Tom’s cottage. I was fortunately able to arrive in time for the ‘live’ pre-show notes providing information on the set, characters and costumes which our describer for the evening, Pat Hayes, presented 15 minutes before the start of the show. I wasn’t familiar with Goodnight Mr Tom at all but for me it certainly was a wholly absorbing story which was undoubtedly enhanced by Pat’s first class description.

The next audio described show at the Grand will be the perennial favourite Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat on the afternoon of Thursday 3 March and information on concessionary tickets, the touch tour and how to book headsets can be obtained from the box office on 01902 429212.

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