27th July 2020
As theatres still can’t reopen their buildings, more and more are joining the trend of streaming past productions online. Chichester Festival Theatre‘s current production available online is The Midnight Gang.
The Midnight Gang is adapted by Bryony Lavery from David Walliams‘ biggest selling children’s book of 2016. The show has a brilliant selection of songs by Joe Stilgoe. The Midnight Gang follows 12 year old Tom who gets a head injury during a cricket match and finds himself whisked off to the children’s ward as Lord Funt Hospital. The ward is under the strict command of the Matron who hates children. Every night some of the children sneak away on various adventures and Tom has to prove himself worthy to join the gang.
Bryony Lavery’s script and Joe Stilgoe’s music encapsulates the fantastical and whimsical feel that the piece needs. Simon Higlett’s is fantastic and quite impressive for what looks like quite a small space. He manages to bring a huge number of locations to life on the stage. Dale Rooks directs the production and she does a great job at creating a piece full of magic whilst still feeling believable. It’s a truly heartwarming piece of theatre.
The production boasts a great team of children leading the cast. Cody Molko leads the cast as Tom. His performance is lovely, he gets the chance to showcase his great singing ability and his performance is very believable. He immediately wins the audience over. Jasmine Sakyiama makes a great Amber. She does a great job as the overly confident child, leading the gang. Rafi Essex’s perfomance as George is fantastic and he is very likeable whilst Felix Warren gives a great performance as Robin. Cerys Hill’s performance as Sally is outstanding. She adds some great emotion to the show and really shines in all of her moments, despite being in the show less than the rest of the children.
The adult cast are equally as strong and all bring their characters to life expertly. Jennie Dale takes on the role of Matron and she is perfectly cast in the role. She is just terrifying enough with a great stage presence and she blows the roof off with her exceptional vocals. Tim Mahendran does a great job as Tom’s headteacher Mr Thews and he shares a brilliant song with Dale. He characterises this role as well as Walliams’ stock character Raj brilliantly and he manages to make the two characters completely different. Matthew Cavendish plays Doctor Luppers and Sir Quentin Strillers and he gives strong performances in both roles. He makes the two roles so different, you almost wouldn’t believe they’re both played by the same actor – he is assisted by the great costumes designed for him. Cavendish brings some great humour to the show.
Marilyn Cutts plays three roles and all three are great fun to watch. Her portrayals of Dilly, the cleaner, and Nelly, an old lady with dementia, bring some great humour and warmth to the production. Lucy Vandi injects a huge amount of energy to the show as Tootsie and her song is a highlight of the show. She is also very good as Nurse Meese and again, you almost you wouldn’t believe the two roles are played the same person. Dickon Gough rounds out the cast as the Porter and he is a highlight of the show. He is very likeable and his story brings some tenderness to the production. He has a great on stage relationship with the children, particularly with Molko as Tom.
The Midnight Gang is a great new musical suitable for all ages. It has the perfect balance of magic, tenderness and tension. It showcases an exceptional company of character actors with some particularly brilliant vocal performances scattered throughout.
Chichester Festival Theatre’s production of David Walliams’ The Midnight Gang can be viewed on their website until 29th May. A new adaptation of Beauty and the Beast will also be available on the venue’s website from 21st May.
Featured Image Credit: Manuel Harlan