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Private Peaceful - Barn Theatre REVIEW

The Barn Theatre is back and they’ve not allowed a global pandemic be a reason to let their standards slip. They’ve powered through the restrictions by adapting to take theatre outdoors and now they’re back inside and with all guns blazing. This month BoxLess Theatre, the Barn Theatre and Take Two Theatricals presented a tale of trauma and triumph with enough power to knock you sideways into the seat-dividing screens.

“Now that is what I’ve missed during lockdown” I said as I walked out of the Barn Theatre. I’ve missed theatre that can chill you and grip you; theatre that you can’t take your eyes off and can lead to shortness of breath; theatre that you wake up the next morning still thinking about. The industry has done its best during the last few months, The Barn included, but let me assure you it’s back with a bang.

Michael Morpurgo’s most famous production is, by far, War Horse; but after watching this show those horses have got some serious competition to stay in the number one spot.

We sit with Thomas ‘Tommo’ Peaceful in his cell as he regails stories of his life the night before he faces the firing squad. Almost every hour brings new battles, heartbreak and emotion as he thinks back to his time in school, work and the trenches of World War I.

Emily Costello is slick and expert at exuding the youthful spirit of Tommo. Her enchanting narration guides the production elegantly and energetically. She is accompanied on stage by James Demaine who is the perfect support to Emily. James whirls around the stage picking up endless additional characters and musical instruments to enhance Emily’s dense script. The pair are endlessly talented and have got their duet down to a fine art, balancing each other perfectly.

Another pair who have excelled themselves (but this time behind the scenes) are Sam Rowcliffe-Tanner and Harry Smith who have not held back with lighting and music after being restricted by outdoor performances for so long. They enhanced the performance to another level, creating a visually stunning production that only grew stronger and slicker with every decision they made.

A flawless show to kick off the 2020 Recovery Season at the Barn. I really hope this isn’t the last we see of this production.

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