Tom Jones is rich, ripe, rowdy, riotous and rumbustious, but is basically a love story. Set in Georgian times in the mid-1700s, it tells the story of Squire Allworthy’s adopted son Tom, who is extremely attractive to all women, but has only one true love. This inevitably causes him all sorts of trouble and problems, and at length he is cast out of his home by his father, to seek his fate elsewhere.
On his travels he becomes entangled with 3 women at once, one of them being his true love, Sophie Western. Charged with murder after being challenged to a duel, he very nearly ends up as gallows meat. However, a pardon arrives at the last minute and true love triumphs.
The play is a bawdy romp, but it also has the more serious theme that the straightforward, generous vices are not the worst ones. More evil lies in hypocrisy, and that insidious perfection of hypocrisy which is self-deceit. This is not laid on heavy-handedly, but emerges naturally from the story as it unfolds.
The play has an excellent script, borrowing much from the language of the original book. Since it is a relatively modern play it has a wonderful flow of dialogue. It captures the Georgian period beautifully, giving wonderful opportunities for mannerisms, costume and dances. One of the reasons for its appeal to audiences over the last 40 years is its physicality, be it in fights, duels, chases, seductions or rapes – and nearly in a hanging! Unusually it is a three act play, but not overlong. There are different locations for each act. There are opportunities to include more crowd scenes than are written, in order to evoke the period flavour even more firmly.
There is a large cast which, as written, has 7 main parts for each sex. There are several more minor speaking parts, and opportunities for an indefinite and variable number of non-speaking roles in both country and London scenes. There are opportunities for a company of all ages.
There are good challenges for all the technical crew, be they lighting or sound, set, wardrobe or choreography.