THEATRE REVIEW: Private Peaceful ★★★★★
The Barn Theatre, Cirencester
Thursday 10th - Sunday 27th September 2020
Following on from their highly successful run at The BarnFest earlier this year, BoxLess Theatre return with their Michael Morpurgo adapted piece Private Peaceful, which graces the main stage of The Barn Theatre, one of the most up and coming fringe venues in the Cotswolds, that has hardly stopped to produce the most groundbreaking projects throughout the lockdown.
Directed by Alexander Knott, Simon Reade's stage adaption of Private Peaceful recounts the diary entries from Tommo Peaceful (Emily Costello), who at sixteen, illegally joins his brother Charlie (James Demaine) to fight for his country, trying to prove his bravery when Molly, a love interest for Tommo, goes and marries Charlie shortly before recruitment. In it's stage form, and alongside Knott, Zöe Grain's role as the Movement Director is pivotal to creating an atmospheric and fast paced environment where we meet and surrounding ourselves within the Peaceful's world.
Constantly jumping between encounters, Costello's childish enthusiasm, that slowly diminished over time, mixed with Demaine's ability to jump between often similar parts, such as The Captain and Charlie respectfully, whilst still keeping each one as an individual character, constantly showed the tenacity of both performers, who exceptionally triumph in twisting and turning between postures and accents, as well as little costume pieces, to enhance our visions into their bubbles, something that the barn in fact has done incredibly well from the audience's perspective also, as we were all divided in the auditorium between perspex shields between parties.
Musical scores and a whole array of instruments also play a vital part in setting up some of the scenes, wether that's when Charlie is playing conkers, or the heightened state of emergency grows to its climax during the war states. Personally though, one particularly haunting moment, that sent shivers down my spine, occured shortly after Tommo's speech regarding the importance of the lucky watch in which she carries throughout, as a rendition of Tin Hart and Friends 'Oranges and Lemons', which is repetitive at certain moments throughout the performance, rang in an eery tone, perfectly accompanied by Sam Rowcliffe-Tanner's electrifying lighting that explores the horrors of the war in such sombre tones, most notably with a corridor a light, one that appears near the latter half of the production, and will most likely stay in your mind for a long while.
Overall, Private Peaceful is a highly emotional and powerful piece for all ages, that exploits the ideas of friendship, bravery and hope, in a production which is Poetically Beautiful with Breathtaking Imagery!