Thursday, 25 April 2019

First World War adaptation resonates powerfully

First World War adaptation resonates powerfully

Private Peaceful | South Hill Park, Bracknell | Thursday, October 11

TAKEN from the novel for older children by Michael Morpurgo, yet resonating with all generations in the centenary of the end of the First World War, here director Joe Malyan created a poignant, harrowing and moving portrayal of the pointlessness of war, the danger of power and the healing nature of love.

Three brothers, Big Joe, Tommo and Charlie, enjoy a happy, relatively carefree childhood, enjoying a friendship with Molly and other villagers, until the loss of their father prompts big changes.

With their mother beholden to the colonel in the big house in the village, the friendship between Molly and Charlie deepening and news of war encroaching, through a series of flashbacks and snapshots, Tommo tells us the sorry tale.

Michael Ayiotis as Charlie inhabited a passionate, forthright and caring character, while Keir Buist as Tommo brought forth lament and despair.

Surrounded by a strong cast, some playing a variety of roles, with Caroline Loveys as the mother, Amy Wilding and Ally McEnhill as Molly through the years and Ian Crump as the brusque colonel/brigadier, the strong message of the piece about the futility of lost lives was brought home by the beauty of Victoria Spearing's stage landscape, with origami birds, bleak cross-shaped fence posts and eerie tree silhouettes.

This was a heartrending story, delicately told.

Natalie Aldred

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