Review: Tom Gates Live − Amusing musings and animations

PUBLISHED: 14:56 21 February 2019

The cast of Tom Gates Live, which is showing at the Bristol Hippodrome.

The cast of Tom Gates Live, which is showing at the Bristol Hippodrome.

Archant

The perfect way to keep your little darlings entertained during a school holiday in winter came in the form of a lively schoolboy whose colourful hot-dog bedecked car crashed into Bristol's Hippodrome last night (Wednesday).

Tom and his best friends Derek and Norman are always in trouble at school.Tom and his best friends Derek and Norman are always in trouble at school.

Based on Liz Pichon’s best-selling books, the hilarious musings of a boy who is forever in trouble were brought to life in a new stage show, Tom Gates Live.

The books have captured the imagination of thousands of schoolchildren as Tom doodles and bungles his way through school and family life.

The producers behind Gangsta Granny and the Horrible Histories stage shows, Birmingham Stage Company, teamed up with the acclaimed author and illustrator to create a special storyline to introduce the character to a new audience, as well as to be enjoyed by its existing fans.

The adoring audience last night lapped up the schoolboy’s latest antics with his best friends Derek, Norman and Amy.

Doodling keeps Tom's attention focussed in school, it's just a shame it's not on his work!Doodling keeps Tom's attention focussed in school, it's just a shame it's not on his work!

The show follows Tom as he tries to keep out of trouble, but things go increasingly wrong for him at home and at school.

His mum, dad and ‘weirdo’ sister Delia are constantly making life difficult for him at home, while his grandparents who he dubs ‘The Fossils’ announce a big surprise.

In class, the irritating Marcus does his best to disrupt things under the watchful eye of Mr Fullerman.

There have been 14 books in the series published so far, which have been a huge hit with children aged five to 12.

Tom is happiest when he is playing with his band Dogzombies.Tom is happiest when he is playing with his band Dogzombies.

Pichon’s quirky illustrations are what draws people to the books and I was looking forward to seeing how these were transferred to the Hippodrome stage.

They were done by way of a series of pulley screens which not only rolled up and down to provide the backdrops for each scene but also cleverly conceal holes, which open up for the props to be removed by the cast.

One of the most humorous scenes is when a hot-dog car, advertising Tom’s dad’s employers café, was moving across the stage, with ‘windows’ which wound down so the cast could bob their heads along to a musical beat and Tom’s friends suddenly appeared inside, as if they had been picked up from their respective homes.

But most brilliant is the way Tom’s trademark doodles are projected as animations which ping onto the screen behind him, with words and cartoons to portray his thoughts and emotions.

Tom is so excited for the school trip to the biscuit factory where they make his favourite, caramel wafers.Tom is so excited for the school trip to the biscuit factory where they make his favourite, caramel wafers.

What really engaged the audience was when Tom and his friends performed songs as their band Dogzombies as they are so catchy it was easy for everyone to sing and clap along.

In fact my friend and our two ten-year-old boys were singing ‘I Want Chips’ all the way back to my car!

The eight-strong cast were exceptional in the roles, most of them playing two characters each, and were word and note-perfect, which cannot be easy when you have to factor in the timings of the animations appearing too.

I would recommend anyone looking for something to do for the remainder of this week to head to Bristol to see it before the run ends on Saturday night, or at least catch it when it tours the rest of the UK this year.

Schoolwork can be so boring at times when there are so many other things you could be doing.Schoolwork can be so boring at times when there are so many other things you could be doing.

Tickets, priced £19.50, are available at www.atgtickets.com/show/tom-gates-live-on-stage/bristol-hippodrome

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