First published amid the rising tension in the southern Atlantic which preceded the Falklands War, Michelle Magorian's children's classic served as a timely reminder of some of the more extraordinary stories of wartimes past. Not least, the wholesale evacuation of the capital's children to the countryside during the bombing of London.
A hugely ambitious undertaking in its own right, the evacuation provided countless stories of heartache and heroism that had only a tenuous connection to the doodlebugs droning their way nightly into London's bruised streets. Most evacuations were painful stories of family separation and, often, permanent farewells to those left behind. The evacuee at the heart of Michelle Magorian's family favourite, William Beech, is unusually relieved to be leaving his abusive home and lands in the care of Thomas Oakley; an elderly widower with his own tragic backstory. 'Mister Tom' is moody and belligerent and, at the outset, evidently disinterested in Willie Beech.
As the two get to know each other, a strong father-son relationship eventually develops. It is emotive stuff; there will be tears and even the most rough-hewn and hardy types can expect third-degree goosebumps at the ending. Such pathos and dramatic storytelling has won Goodnight Mister Tom many prizes and the affection of audiences everywhere. This adaptation by David Wood, with Olivier Award-winning actor Oliver Ford Davies starring as Mister Tom, transfers to the West End following last year's Chichester Festival and a national tour.
Goodnight Mister Tom opens in London at the Phoenix on Thursday 22nd November, running until Saturday 26th January 2013. There are no performances on Sundays and Monday, although there are matinee shows on (most) Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. We have tickets available now, priced from £15, rising to £46.50 for the very best stalls.
The national tour begins a few days after with a run at the Manchester Opera House, followed by stints in Brighton, York, Glasgow and more before the final dates announced so far in Birmingham from 8th April 2013. Demand is expected to be high.