Pros: Private Peaceful marks a part of history that should never be forgotten.
Cons: The setting in a conventional theatre with a raised stage is not ideal for this intimate piece.
A very long night awaits Private Thomas Peaceful (Andy Daniel). A night long enough for him to see his entire life rewound before his eyes.
We find him sat on a rough bed, wearing khaki trousers and an off-white shirt. The rest of his gear is piled up in the corner, a uniform jacket, a backpack, a metal helmet and a heavy winter coat. He breaks the silence reminiscing about his first day at school, when his older brother Charlie offered him a piggyback ride.
Thomas’ childhood memories are sweet. Playtime is spent with his brother and their best friend Molly. There are fishing trips in the afternoon, swims in the river, and their first ever sighting of an airplane flying across the sky.
The siblings come from a close-knit household, one that Charlie is called upon to support far too early, due to the father’s premature death. Working in a farm, he’s soon joined by his younger relative, who oozes admiration for his more mature, stronger and funnier role-model.
The Private’s wristwatch ticks into the dead of night, whilst the stories keep flowing.
Soon arrives the First World War and Thomas, despite being only 16 years old, joins the army as a volunteer, passing himself off as Charlie’s twin. The training is harsh and life inside the trenches is described with piercing details. What initially seemed an exciting adventure turns into a tunnel without end or escape, and Private Peaceful is called to make yet more irreversible choices.
Specially adapted for this production from Michael Morpurgo’s homonymous novel, this one-man play is a tender tribute to brotherhood and the valiant portrayal of two sibling’s unconditional loyalty, whose bond persists beyond life.
Following the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Private Peaceful will transfer to the Leicester Square Theatre in London for a short run.
Author: Michael Morpurgo
Adapted and Directed by: Simon Reade
Producer: Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2018
Booking Until: 27 August 2018
Box Office: 0131 510 0395
Booking Link: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/private-peaceful-by-michael-morpurgo