It is always great when you have the privilege to take the person accompanying you as your ‘+1’ to a show they are a super fan of. Last night, the super fan in question was my nine year old daughter, and the show we were seeing was Tom Gates Live on Stage! at the Bristol Hippodrome, a new show from the Birmingham Stage Company.
Now, if you don’t know who Tom Gates is, that means you probably don’t have a child aged between eight and eleven-ish. I will admit; I also wasn’t exactly clear on what it was we were seeing tonight as this series of books by Liz Pichon tend to be the sort of book that gets devoured all on their own at bedtime and read under the covers by torchlight when your kid knows that ‘lights off’ was at least half an hour ago. What I did know from flicking through the Tom Gates series whenever my daughter persuaded me to get her the next one is that the stories are punctuated by drawings and doodles that really bring the stories to life for young independent readers.
As a grown up, the storyline of this show might not be the thing which holds your interest, but the staging of this show certainly will be. The whole look of the show is incredibly clever and the doodles of the books are central to presenting the story in the same way as they are in the books. It is clear that the production team have worked really hard to keep the look of the show as true to the books as possible, and it really works. I have to say that it is hard to write this review as the show was not really for me but aimed at all the other kids in the audience who loved it just as much as my girl. I enjoyed it, I also felt it could have been trimmed a little in length. However, my opinion matters very little.
My daughter told me it was ‘the best theatre show I have ever seen. EVER!’ She also insisted that she was able to contribute to this review, and I think she says it so much better than I can …
Tom Gates Live runs at The Bristol Hippodrome until 23rd February
Tom Gates Image by Mark Douet, with thanks