This year’s school production of ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer’ transported audiences back to America’s Mid-West in the 1840’s, where all enjoyed the tale of young, troublesome Tom Sawyer growing up along the Mississippi river for three nights from 9th-11th of November 2017.
The story begins by introducing the intriguing characters of the town, all of whom have their own individual quirks and characteristics. We meet a gaggle of gossiping middle-aged woman, comprised of Mrs Thatcher, Mrs Harper and Widow Douglas, mothers of some of the rebellious youngsters of the town, expertly portrayed by Sophie Older, Hannah Ferguson and Laura Saunders, as well as the local school teacher Walter Potter –played by David Saygi- and his love interest Mary Rogers –played by Lauren Boyd. However, the plot thickens immensely upon realising that Doctor Robinson –portrayed by Owen Rea- is also in love with Mary and will do anything possible to spoil Walter’s chances with her. The deceptive ‘Doc’ pays Injun Joe –the antagonist of the play, performed by Stephen Black – to keep Walter’s father, Muff Potter – played by Peter McClements – inebriated so as to disgrace the teacher and ruin his chances with young Mary, allowing the Doctor to take the lead. However, Joe, being the ruffian that he is, demands more money from the Dr. who refuses, threatens to put him in prison and thus ends their agreement. Sinisterly, Joe vows revenge, foreshadowing what is soon to come.
Meanwhile Aunt Polly –played by Dion Di Maio- punishes her nephew Tom Sawyer, the eponymous protagonist of the drama, performed by Bebhinn Elliot-Murphy, for skipping school, making him whitewash a fence to discipline him. However, Tom cleverly manipulates his friends to trade him small treasures for the privilege of doing his work. He has a flirtatious interaction with Becky Thatcher –portrayed by Sarah Boyd- and the two children comically decide to get “engaged”, but all falls to pieces when Tom lets slip that he’s been “engaged” before to Amy Lawrence, played by Cherith Robinson. After Becky shuns Tom, he arranges to sneak out with Huckleberry Finn, portrayed by Aimee Johnston, to the graveyard where they stumble upon the murder of young Dr Robinson by the evil Injun Joe, who will soon blame Walter’s father Muff potter, a hapless drunk, for the crime. A comic interlude then ensues in the schoolroom, where a disastrous spelling recital involving Ben Rogers (Ellie Curry), Gracie Miller (Kamile Grydziusko) and Alfred Temple (Zara McDermott), alongside Tom and co. Similarly, Judge Thatcher (Justin Lam), an honoured guest in town, has the dubious honour of presenting the school merit medal to the undeserving Tom. Our hero has managed to gain ‘yellow tickets for the medal using his charm and wit, but his lack of academic knowledge is soon comically exposed. However, the scene ends with the shocking discovery of Dr Robinson’s body being announced. Terrified, the two young boys swear a blood oath to never to tell anyone about the horrific event they have just witnessed. The small Missouri town is jarred on hearing of the doctor’s death and with Muff Potter being blamed instead of Joe, Tom and Huck are racked with guilt, deciding that running away is their only option, and so they flee with Tom’s best friend in tow, Joe Harper –played by Catherine Boyd- and become pirates on Jackson’s Island on the Mississippi River.
The discovery of their disappearance and some evidence found on the banks of the river, lead the town to believe the trio are dead, prompting an emotive scene involving Aunt Polly and the other mothers, relatives and guardians of the boys. We also witness some humorous scolding of the Rev Sprague (played by Robin Kirk) by Mrs Douglas (Laura Saunders), when he suggests Huckleberry Finn will not join the other two boys in heaven. However, the meddling Tom, not being far away from his hometown, returns that night to hear that his funeral will be held the next day and is suddenly struck with the comedic idea of appearing at his own funeral, surprising everyone. As the boys prepare for their return home the following day, they discover Muff Potter near their hide out, running from the law and his unjust charge. The boys and Muff sleep, ready for their homecoming, however trouble lurks ever closer and Injun Joe arrives on the scene, tricking Muff into return to the town with him in order to claim the reward set for Muff’s retrieval.
The boys, on waking and being unable to locate Muff, arrive promptly back in town while their funerals are in full swing. Lurking out of sight, they observe the grieving town for a few moments, beginning to see that their lives in their small-town homes weren’t so bad. On making themselves known when the mourners exit the church, there is jubilation for the boys’ safe return. However, the frantic joy is soon disturbed by a grapple between the men of the town, who want to inflict summary justice upon Muff Potter, and execute him for the murder he committed, without an official trial. Tom and Huck, finally deciding to break their impulsive oath, speak up and tell the townspeople all they saw that fateful night. Injun Joe, now a known criminal, attempts to flee, but is stopped short by Sheriff Jones- played by Dylan Mason. The town, overcome with happiness at the prospect of having their boys back, celebrate, prompting the young trouble makers to come home, giving up their dreams of becoming pirates once and for all.
The show was a huge success for all those involved. The gifted cast was guided skilfully by Mr McDowell and Mr McGuinness, creating a quality and superb show that made the Assembly Hall come alive for three nights. The production, as always, would not have been such a success without the incredible teamwork of the Costume Committee, the talented hair and make-up team and the committed backstage team –run by sixth-form pupils, who were involved in painting, construction of props and various necessary tasks, long before the actual nights of the performance. Congratulations to all staff and students involved in another amazing production!
Reporters: Laura Anderson and Rebecca Richardson (both Year 14)