A one actor show with minimal scenery tells the moving story of Michael Morpurgo's Private Peaceful, Tommo is a young soldier in the First World War acted by Andy Daniels This is the adaptation from the Blue Peter prize winning book. The powerful portrayal of the actor plays out each instrumental character of his family and beyond as he reflects on earlier memories.
We follow him through his first day at school where he meets a bullying teacher to joining up and his role in fighting at war. The complexities of emotions involved in relationships are all beautifully performed. The actor’s quick switch between characters is admirable and engaging providing visualisations of the characters he played through his portrayal. The stories of family life, the loss of his father and the events which lead him to join up to fight captivated the audience. In the interval the actor stayed on stage for the whole time, this caused some speculation as to why but on reflection this shows his commitment to the character and is pivotal to telling the story.
The sound and light effects filled the theatre and are vivid reminders as the atrocities of the war unfold, the story of family life back home carry on with letters arriving, the letter tucked into his pocket closest to his heart. The description of the trench conditions although heard before I found myself recoiling from the appalling conditions described as he attacked the unseen rats in rain filled trenches.
I wish I could tell you how it ended, but I'd be cheating you of the unravelling story which has to be seen to be appreciated. Attending with teenagers it's harder to predict their reaction, enjoyed isn't the right word; it held their attention, moved us all and provided a lot to talk about afterwards. We enjoyed the performance yet it would seem wrong to say we enjoyed the story, the tragedy of war stories, of lives lost are painful reminders of the history painted in such a simple yet enthralling production the memories of this will stay with us far longer than any other performance.
The age 8+ is good guidance, there were also couples attending and this was definitely not just a family show. All credit to the actor who performed for the whole duration, he commandeered the stage.
Tickets were received by Mumsnet Lancashire for review in Liverpool on 8th March 2014. The tour returns to the North West in Manchester 7th-10th May 2014.