Review: Tom’s Midnight Garden

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Lyceum Theatre

In an age of Xbox 360, smartphones and other fast-moving technological enticements it was pleasing to see my children and countless others on school trips enthralled by a wonderful theatre retelling of a classic tale.

This David Wood adaptation of Philippa Pearce’s 1958 story tells of Tom, who is quarantined at his aunt and uncle’s flat in a once stately home to evade his brother’s measles, but finds there is very little to do.

That is until the mysterious grandfather clock chimes 13 one night and the intrigued youngster discovers that the dustbin-filled back yard is transformed into a wonderful lush garden. Here he meets Hatty, a young girl, but something is not quite right, and Tom believes that his playmate may be a ghost, even though he’s the one who can walk through doors.

Just as they did in their recent production of James And The Giant Peach at the Lyceum, Birmingham Stage Company show why they are at the forefront of children’s theatre. No CGI-laden effects here as Tom permeates through solid objects using simple theatre techniques. Minimal props and simple sets suffice as BSC’s multi-instrument playing cast intersperse their crystal-clear dialogue with music and haunting sound effects to keep its young (and old) audience spellbound.

At the interval I overheard wide-eyed excited youngsters debating who might be the ghost and enthusing over the second half.

So refreshing to see wittering 
instead of Twittering.