Reviewed by Katy Nettleton
I have a bookshelf full of Tom Gates books and have had my twin girls (aged 9) read the odd page to me, but regrettably have not sat and read a full book with them. This Is mainly due to them reading them so quickly that they have nearly finished them before I have finished my cuppa (this is not because they are short books, but that my children love them so much they devour them as soon as they get them in 1 sitting!). So, it was absolutely brilliant for me to be able to share their interest in reading and live theatre. I did not know what to expect, and wasn’t sure if my 9 year olds would be too old or young, but to be honest I think my 6 year old who has never read the books would have loved the show in equal measures as would slightly older children (there was a mixed range of ages in the audience and there wasn’t a child or adult not clapping along or singing “chips” at some point!). As my girls had read all the books, they have informed me that the play does follow closely to the book and there are only a few “tweaks” to the show (in their words!). I really enjoyed the show and found that the staging and projections were brilliant, pure genius as a very simple strategy had a big impact. The minimalist approach to lighting and projections onto multiple layers supported a seamless transition and perfect backdrop for the school, Tom’s home, his bedroom, the local shop, the wedding reception and the discrete Hot Dog car. I have been to many productions and have to say this is one of the best that I have seen in a long time, the use of modern technology and basic staging made for seamless transformation between scenes and enabled a young audience to keep up with the fast paced show.
The show is based around Tom Gates, a young boy who is trying to stay out of trouble so that he could go on the best school trip ever, the Biscuit Factory (as I type about the Biscuit Factory I have got the song going through my head!). Tom, as predicted manages to get himself into and out of trouble throughout the show with many hilarious moments that often reflect in our own lives! The way in which the cast interacted with each other, but more importantly engaged with the audience to gain their involvement was professionalism at its finest.
The way in which the programme, the merchandise and the “photobooth” were set up truly grew my girls’ excitement for seeing the show and get them eagerly awaiting the start in their seats was magnificent. It all added to the evening and complemented the show perfectly, especially with this being a family show it kept the children entertained whilst waiting for the show to start.
Overall, I would give this 5 out of 5 and say that it’s a perfect show to get children and families excited by live theatre. I will be definitely booking to go again with my 6-year-old and will take my girls also as they are keen to go again!
The final words go to my daughter Charlie (age 9): To sum the show up in 3 words I would say it is “Exciting, Fun and Brilliant.” As an avid reader of Tom Gates books (I now have them all thank you to the shop in the entrance!) it was really good to see the doodles come to life. The stage was very good with the projected scenes and hidden drawers and beds! Also, the actors are great, and they all played their part all the way through and did not break from character, like Delia who does not smile or does she?
I really, really enjoyed the show and want to go again another time, I loved it! Overall, I give this 12 out of 10 as it was that good!
Tickets cost from £10 to £22 (booking fees may apply).
Tom Gates Live is at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham from 13-17 November 2019, for more information or to book tickets visit www.trch.co.uk or call the box office on 0115 989 5555.
Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall, Theatre Square, Nottingham, NG1 5ND