Private Peaceful based on the book by Michael Morpurgo is at theSpace@NiddrySt (Venue 9) until 26th August, and is well worth seeing, whether or not you know the book.
This is a one-man show, an exceptional performance by George Stagnell, set during the night of 24th-25th June 1916, as the 17 year old Private Thomas Peaceful relives his memories from his first day at school to the present.
Acting out the various characters he interacted with, Thomas “Tommo” Peaceful takes us through the happy days of his childhood where he hero-worshipped his older brother Charlie, adored Molly who was friends with both of them, and defended and protected his brother Big Joe, who had been brain damaged as a result of meningitis as a child. Through Tommo’s eyes, we see the death and funeral of his father, the wedding of Charlie and Molly (who was expecting Charlie’s child), and the excitement of a marching band in their village after war had broken out. At 15 years old, Tommo was too young to sign up, but Charlie, who was then 19, pretended they were twins and they were accepted.
With Tommo, we then relive the horrors of the trenches and battlefields, seeing friends and comrades killed before his eyes, and just wanting it to stop, to be over.
George Stagnell’s performance was funny, moving, and heart-breaking at times, and the entire audience, which included several children, was completely engrossed throughout.
I won’t give away the ending of the play, but the 11 year old who was sitting beside me told me it was different from the book!
There is also a companion piece immediately after this show - Songs From A Shropshire Lad
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