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Bed Peace: The Battle of Yohn and Joko review at Cockpit, London – ‘big-hearted and sprightly’

Jung Sun den Hollander and Craig Edgley in Bed Peace: The Battle of Yohn and Joko at Cockpit Theatre, London Jung Sun den Hollander and Craig Edgley in Bed Peace: The Battle of Yohn and Joko at Cockpit Theatre, London
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In 1969, as the conflict escalated in Vietnam, John Lennon and his new wife Yoko Ono staged their bed-in for peace. This two-week peaceful protest made world headlines and inspired the 20th-century anthem Give Peace a Chance.

Craft Theatre celebrates its 50th anniversary with Bed Peace: The Battle of Yohn and Joko, which offers a fictional account of the event, exploring the couple’s often-maligned relationship. Themes of love and understanding are explored as Ono helps Lennon cope with life after the Beatles. This crucible of peace, however, is also a battleground, as they seek to understand issues of race and gender equality that surround them.

Creator Rocky Rodriguez Jr has taken an episode of popular cultural history and, with no little theatrical flair, granted it mythical status. What might have been a simple, documentary drama springs to life with a sprightly mix of physical theatre, music and song.

There’s a lightness of touch to Helen Foster’s amiable Narrator, while Amelia Parillon’s civil rights rhetoric packs a hefty emotional punch. The focus, however, is on Lennon and Ono and how they behave away from the spotlight. Craig Edgley is a pithy, petulant ex-Beatle, reasoned down from his pedestal and back to reality by Jung Sun den Hollander’s nurturing, pragmatic Ono.

Rodriguez Jr mixes fiction with fact, but it chimes with Craft’s dedication to theatre that sparks debate and connects communities. This quirky, entertaining deconstruction of the bed-in for peace provides the springboard for a human rights debate that is still being argued today.

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Big-hearted, richly theatrical dramatisation of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s bed-in for peace