The theatre has made huge efforts to make the venue safe and it works extremely well. Dedicated tables while you wait for the show, individual groups taking it in turns to enter the auditorium and ordering drinks via an app are among the measures. What hasn’t changed though is the same friendly service and to be honest, whatever the new rules, WE CAN SEE LIVE THEATRE AGAIN!
Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo
The show is based on the book by War Horse author Michael Morpurgo. It tells the story of 16-year-old First World War soldier Tommo Peaceful as he looks back on his childhood and the horrors of the trenches.
Emily Costello is absolutely brilliant as Tommo, the 15-year-old who reflects on growing up in the countryside, his first love, fun times at school and an accident that killed his father.
Equally brilliant is James Demaine who plays Tommo’s brother Charlie and several other characters.
Six crates and a few instruments are the only props but Costello and Demaine use them to brilliant effect and transform the stage into a completely convincing lake, forest, school playground and the front line.
Private Peaceful, by The Barn Theatre and BoxLess Theatre, is an intense 70 minutes which kept us utterly transfixed until the dramatic and heartbreaking conclusion (we’re not going to give it away and if you don’t already don’t know, we recommend not doing any Googling!).
Costello oozes emotion as Tommo tries to come to terms with guilt and the pressures of war and Demaine must be absolutely shattered as he flits around the stage switching from character to character armed with a mouth organ, guitar and other musical paraphernalia.
In a sign of the times, the show is socially distanced with the two actors managing to maintain the one-metre rule but never letting it get in the way of the story.
The sound and lighting by Harry Smith and Sam Rowcliffe-Tanner is another star of the show. It’s used superbly to create hugely realistic atmospheres for the different environments.
After leaving Bristol, where the play had its world premiere in 2004, Private Peaceful arrives at the Garrick Theatre as the first new production to be staged indoors in the West End since the coronavirus lockdown restrictions took effect. London, you’ve got an amazing treat on the way!
Private Peaceful is at Bristol Old Vic until 24 October.
Images credit: Eve Dunlop