The Midnight Gang
Chichester Festival Theatre
In these challenging times Chichester Festival Theatre are streaming free, previous live shows for all to enjoy during these lockdown days. Their second production is David Walliams’ The Midnight Gang, a family show available until the end of the month.
Bryony Lavery’s adaptation of this best-selling book, directed by Dale Rooks with music/lyrics from Joe Stilgoe, received rave reviews and triumphant standing ovations back in October 2018 when first staged.
This is a heart-warming story of friendship and kindness to others but there is a darker side to this inventive tale touching on disfigurement, disabilities and bullying.
Opening with 12 year old Tom being hit on the head during a game of cricket at his boarding school and being wheeled into the creepy Lord Funt Hospital. Here he meets not only the cruel child-hating matron but also his fellow patients in the children’s ward. When the lights are out and the clock strikes midnight the gang of children embark on exciting adventures around the labyrinthine levels of the spooky building. Tom is desperate to be included in the Midnight Gang but will he be accepted and who first started this strange custom?
Remaining faithful to the original novel and with Simon Higlett’s eye-catching gothic set, this highly talented cast of youngsters bring the story magically to life. The children are all aged between 11-14, some already with West End experience, and absolutely shine in their roles as young patients suffering from a variety of accidents or sickness. The sadistic matron is excellently played by Jennie Dale who with Tim Mahendran (Mr Thews the headmaster) perform a hugely entertaining and flirtatious dance routine to The Punishment will be Severe.
An exciting, visually stunning production and a huge tonic while we await the return of the creative theatrical stimulation of live performances once more.
Reviewer: Jill Lawrie