Welcome! This is your first free article. Get more free articles when you sign up with your email.

Private Peaceful

FacebookTwitterLinkedIn

This evocative First World War monologue has been adapted by Simon Reade from a book by Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo, written as part of a campaign to persuade the government to grant pardons to the 300 shell-shocked British tommies executed between 1914 and 1918 for cowardice or desertion. It is very much more than just a piece of propaganda, though, even if once or twice it does wear a class chip on its shoulder.

Morpurgo’s framework is deceptively simple, as 18-year-old Private Peaceful spends his last night before facing a firing squad remembering his Devon childhood, the first stirrings of love, the recruiting officer persuading under-age boys to take the King’s shilling. From there we are in the trenches and the writing takes on a clarity, a lack of sentimentality and a harsh reality that lifts the work close to the same league as Sebastian Faulks’ Birdsong.

It is in the trenches that Paul Chequer meets the challenge of delivering such a multi-faceted solo tour-de-force. His physical terror, most especially at the onset of a gas attack, is tangible, while his eventual refusal to abandon his wounded brother and go over the top in a totally futile raid is nobody’s idea of cowardice. This is powerful and moving theatre, aided here by a lighting plot by Tim Streader and sound by Jason Barnes far superior to that for your average one-man show.

Production Details
Production namePrivate Peaceful
VenueNew Vic Studio
LocationBristol
StartsApril 7, 2004
EndsApril 24, 2004
Running time1hr 30mins
AuthorMichael Morpurgo, Simon Reade
DirectorSimon Reade
CastPaul Chequer
ProducerBristol Old Vic
FacebookTwitterLinkedIn
Add New Comment
You must be logged in to comment.
Jeremy Brien

Jeremy Brien

Jeremy Brien

Jeremy Brien

Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue

Invest in The Stage today with a subscription starting at just £3.98
The Stage
© Copyright The Stage Media Company Limited 2020
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter
Linked In
Pinterest
YouTube