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Private Peaceful is another adaptation of a novel by the brilliant children’s laureate Michael Morpurgo (of War Horse fame).
Similarly to how War Horse relates sophisticated ideas about war to young audiences by focusing on the relationship between soldiers and animals, Private Peaceful focuses on the childhood recollections of a sixteen-year old boy who lied about his age to be able to fight alongside his brother in the First World War.
Finn Hanlon gave an amazing performance as Tommo Peaceful, controlling the pace of the piece while not just developing Tommo’s character but also bringing a great deal of life to the characters within his recollections. This is no small achievement – the play is a 60 minute reflective monologue performed on a stage empty of all but a dilapidated folding bed.
The strength of the play is in how beautifully it captures how Tommo’s favourite memories are poisoned by his time on the front; his first glimpse of a aeroplane in a country field, running along the mud tracks of a stream with his best friend, and getting piggyback rides from his big brother.
A fantastic piece of children’s theatre.
Michael Morpurgo an Simon Reade
Udderbelly, Bristo Square
Until the 31st of August
Morgurgo is also going to be speaking at three events the Edinburgh Book Festival: some tickets still available.
I heard an interview with Nigella Lawson where she talked about her experiences as a restaurant reviewer. She said that she was always reluctant to write really negative reviews, saying that she thought on some occasions it was more charitable to just say nothing.
That is my inclination about Horse. I always think I’m going to love physical theatre, then about ten minutes in I’m itching to leave and cursing myself for thinking an hour of dramatic movement and half-arsed dancing will be entertaining.
Rather than write a full review I’ll just briefly summarise what audiences can expect:
Woman dances like a horse with a mop for a tail. Falls into a stack of hay bales. Is heckled. Gets into jodhpurs and a riding jacket (slowly) and reads from a riding manual. Changes into pastor’s outfit (slowly) and holds a equine religious service. Strokes members of the audience. Changes back into original outfit (slowly) and pretends to ride a hobby horse. Stands topless on said hobby horse. Jumps into a water trough, emerges dripping wet and dressed in formal attire. Sings.
Actually the last costume change was quite impressive. It was a fairly small trough.
I don’t think my disappointment after seeing Horse was just the inevitable realisation that I don’t really like physical theatre. For one thing the somewhat misleading positive reviews on the promotional poster are actually for one of Company FZ’s previous fringe productions. For another: half the audience walked out. Seemingly from boredom rather than shock or excessive hay inhalation.
It’s the Edinburgh Fringe! I don’t care if you’re provocative, silly or poorly rehearsed. Just don’t be boring.
The Bosco at Hullabaloo
until the 31st of August