The bestselling kids’ books about Tom Gates have come to life this week at Milton Keynes Theatre with a spectacular stage version of a brand new story.
The producers have used some very clever techniques to create an animated backdrop which the actors interact with as the famous doodles from the books suddenly turn into real doors, windows and washing machines.
There’s even a scene where the characters are inside a doodled car as it drives around town.
The story follows Tom (Matthew Chase) and his chums as they try to stay out of trouble so they can go on a school trip to a biscuit factory, but things get off to a tricky start when he mistakes the address of a council ‘doodle wall’ and inadvertantly vandalises a street by spray painting his colourful artwork.
After fleeing the crime scene, he then continues his anti social behaviour by drawing his graffiti on his mother’s new dress and singing an insulting song about his sister. Things then take a turn for the worse when a woman who witnessed his vandalism turns up at the school.
Matthew Gates is perfect in the lead role, with a great energy to his performance and although it is quite a stretch to believe he is a 10 year old, he really does bring the character to life.
His partners in crime, Derek (Matthew Gordon), Marcus (Ashley Cousins) and Amy (Amy Hargreaves) are also well cast, and although their accents seem to travel from Wales to Newcastle via Manchester, they seem to be having a lot of fun on stage. Amy also plays Tom’s sister Delia with a very convincing level of teenage angst.
This is a show which will delight families with a psychadelic feast for the senses which will keep the kids enthralled and plenty to keep the grown ups smiling too with subtle jokes like a stage set made from zimmer frames for the band’s live performance at a nursing home alongside the ‘slipped disco’.
The Birmingham Stage Company and author/illustrator Liz Pichon have worked hard to create a show which retains the spirit and visuals of the much loved books but really does take it to a new level. Most of the graphics and sets have been drawn by Liz herself and you can see how much care has been taken to create this show.
The efforts are not lost on the audience with crowds of smiling families leaving the theatre after a good singalong with a song about how much we all love chips.