BWW Review: GOODNIGHT MR TOM at Dolphin Theatre Onehunga

BWW Review: GOODNIGHT MR TOM at Dolphin Theatre Onehunga

Dolphin Theatre's production of 'Goodnight Mr Tom' is a beautifully orchestrated piece of theatre and it is difficult to reconcile that the set, special effects and performances of almost all cast members are not that of a professional company.

The authenticity created within this production at the direction of Nathan Hey is truly remarkable and the result of some very clever and strategic set design, puppetry, special effects and original creativity. Bravo!

BWW Review: GOODNIGHT MR TOM at Dolphin Theatre OnehungaThe set design was impressive. Not only did it frame the story perfectly but also transitions from one scene to the next with a clever fluidity enhanced by appropriate music. Accolades again to Director Nathan Hey for his strategic and cleverly creative set design.

The play takes us back to 1939 Britain on the brink of war. Young William Beech is sent to live with Tom Oakley in the village of Little Weirwold. Tom is a sad, reclusive widower who discovers William has been a victim of child abuse and greatly needs his love and care.

William becomes part of a supportive community and begins to thrive despite World War II becoming a grim reality for the village. When William receives word his mother is ill and he must return to London, things take quite a turn.

The cast of 13, of which 10 had more than one role, were collectively superb. Paul Norell as Mr Tom totally owned this role transforming from a broken hearted and somewhat bitter widow into a loving kind man, claiming the full engagement from the audience each time he opened his mouth. Matt Love's portrayal William Beech is perfect in his subtle revelation of his frailty and abuse and carefully transforms in his response to being loved and accepted. Contrasting in demeanour is the larger than life Zach exquisitely and expertly played by George Maunsell.

Arthur Young was excellent and never missed a beat as he transformed himself into five different roles during the performance. Local friends Carrie (Abbie Parsons), Ginnie (Jess Simpson) and George (Harry Stanley) carried off roles all befitting the era with Parsons and Simpson taking on roles as nurses and Stanley playing a puppeteer with the expertise of a professional.

Mark Campbell was brilliant in the role of Dr Little nailing the stereotype of the local village Doctor with a perfect balance of matter-of-fact and empathy.

BWW Review: GOODNIGHT MR TOM at Dolphin Theatre OnehungaEmma Love rose to the challenge of playing the contrasting characters of Mrs Hartridge and Mrs Beech admirably and equally skilled were Joanne Hennessy, Viktoria Jowers-Wilding and Carleen Craig playing 2-3 roles. Newcomer to the Dolphin Stage is Marika Van der Voon who carried off the role of Miss Miller fully understanding what was required of her.

The creative use of technologies in this play is outstanding; from the clever puppetry (the puppets were made for this production) to the London train station, the re-creation of the bombings in London during WWII, to the symbolism used to depict William's mental health in hospital. It is all very very clever. Special mention must go to lighting (Ian Mardon and Nathan Hey) and sound (Ray Gabites) creators for their superb efforts.BWW Review: GOODNIGHT MR TOM at Dolphin Theatre Onehunga

The wardrobe team (Jocelyn McQuaid and Robyn Fleming), Props (Janet Hannah) and set artwork (Catherine Maunsell) also contributed effectively to the authentic step back in time.

'Goodnight Mr Tom' is a multi-layered story of child abuse, love, resilience and the human spirit. It's an absolute must-see. Take your kids (I hope the local High Schools are going) for an engaging lesson in history and make some comparisons to our own current social statistics.
I went away with cliches such as 'all you need is love' and 'doing the right thing is always the best thing' and 'keep on keeping on' but these cliches had a renewed clarity of meaning in my head. Go see it.

Goodnight Mr Tom
Runs until 13th October
Dolphin Theatre
12 Spring Road

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From This Author Monica Moore

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