Private Peaceful (5 stars)

This article is from 2009.

Private Peaceful

All’s not fair in love and war

This one-man show, performed by Finn Hanlon and adapted by director Simon Reade from Michael Morpurgo’s novel, questions why over 300 British soldiers were executed for perceived cowardliness or desertion during World War I, through the character of an underage soldier as he waits to be shot at dawn.

Hanlon triumphs as Private ‘Tommo’ Peaceful, gently juxtaposing the grim reality of life on the front line with his quiet childhood in Devon. But as he relives the important events of the past 18 years, such as the sudden death of his father, and his only unrequited love, his thoughts soon turn to the actions of his cruel and inexperienced superiors as the clock edges ever closer to 6am.

Time is the driving force of the play, as each minute becomes more desperate; the anger of the piece erupts onto the stage as the sense of injustice at the futility and the very real tragedy of Peaceful’s situation becomes all too real. Expertly presented and impeccably rehearsed, this production finally gives those condemned and forgotten a voice.

Udderbelly’s Pasture, 0844 545 8252, until 30 Aug 2009, 2pm, £11–£12 (£9–£10).

Private Peaceful - Michael Morpurgo

  • 5 stars

A young WWI soldier awaiting the firing squad at dawn, looks back over his short but joyful past. 'The horrors of war and joyfulness of life are bound up together in this magnificent show' - *****(Scotsman).

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