tom gates

Tom Gates Live on Stage!

The Alexandra Theatre


Tom Gates is an excited young boy and has a love for doodling. The live stage show by Liz Pichon and The Birmingham Stage Company directed by Neal Foster brings to life his imaginative world from her popular children’s books.

The only thing that matters to Tom is to go onto the school trip, to a biscuit factory. You can only attend, of course, with good behaviour. You cannot go on the trip if you have four sad faces on the achievement chart. Tom’s friend Amy (Amy Hargreaves) has three smiley faces keeping her safe, but Tom has three sad faces which puts him in real danger of not being able to go.

Tom (Matthew Chase) is in a band called Dog Zombies. Tom and his band mates Derek (Matthew Gordon) and Norman (Justin Davies) have good intentions, but they can’t help but getting into trouble.

Tom’s doodles and drawings are amazing and when they find out about the ‘doodle wall’ at school, Tom wants to be the first to go to make his mark. When Dad (Daniel Harkin) takes them to the wrong wall and a Lady (Ebony Wong) finds the drawings with the friends’ signatures attached, Tom is convinced that he will never get to go on the trip if school finds out.

The slick cast are brilliant within their multi-rolling parts. Marcus is played by Ashley Cousins. He is comical within the schoolboy role and also hilarious as the roller-skating Granny. Amy Hargreaves shows varied range as she switches from the nice schoolgirl Amy to Tom’s apathetic teenage sister, Delia. Alice Redmond also brings forth a great sense of empathy as Mum.

The background animation adds an impressive dimension to the production. It is a feast for the eyes, with constant moving images that shift from each setting to the next. The colourful animation brings Pichon’s imagination to the forefront of our minds. The video design by Simon Wainwirght gives an endearing addition to the upbeat vibes of the cast. Author Pitchon also heralds the principal artwork and we see Tom’s doodles come to life in real time. It is a perfect mix of media and live art, which gives little theatre goers a splendid introduction to the world of live art.

The production brings to life a story of light-hearted fun with an impressive technical stage. Of course, Tom muddles his way out of all of his forgetful problems and is finally allowed to go to the biscuit factory, much to the disgust of Marcus. The finale is like a party, taking place at the renewal of Granny and Grandad’s wedding. We are played out happily by Dog Zombies who encourage us to dance and sing along to their upbeat tunes.

Elizabeth Halpin


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