AFTER The Great War one-man show Private Peaceful, York company Pick Me Up Theatre has done a quick turnaround for the Second World War children's story of Michelle Magorian’s Goodnight Mister Tom.

The posters on the stairwells have changed from Lord Kitchener to Winston Churchill, and the auditorium entrance and bar are now framed with tin of the kind found on pig farms and old shelters. Likewise, designer Adam Moore has built a backdrop from the same tin.

The seating remains rows of wooden chairs recovered from an old Hull chapel, through which Readman's cast of principals, supporting players and an ensemble of young evacuees must navigate assorted routes to the stage for a series of often short but accumulatively affecting scenes in David Wood's adaptation.

The setting for the adventures of eight-year-old London evacuee William Beech (Jack Hambleton) is an idyllic Dorset village, where elderly recluse Tom Oakley (Craig Kirby) takes him under his wing, and as the bruised, malnourished, illiterate William gradually opens up, so too does Mister Tom.

Tom's Border Collie dog Sammy (handled so dexterously by puppeteer Elanor Dunn) and an exuberant, theatre-loving evacuee, Zach (Zac Stewart) help too, but the shadow of war and William's brutal, religious-nut mother (Juliet Waters) loom large in a play that can be humorous one moment, but shocking and grave too.

Kirby is a tremendous lead, while Pick Me Up debutants Hambleton and Stewart impress as the circumspect, introspective William and livewire Zach; Waters, Hattie Attwood, Ava Bounds, Henry Hudson, Alexandra Mather and James Coldrick stand out too and the evacuees and schoolchildren are top class. Sam Johnson and Juliet Waters' piano playing and Ian Thomson's sound are vital to so many scenes too.

Goodnight Mister Tom, Pick Me Up Theatre, John Cooper Studio Theatre, 41 Monkgate, York, until Sunday, 7.30pm and 2.30pm Saturday and Sunday matinees. Box office: 01904 623568 or at