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Emily Costello

Michael Morpugo’s ‘Private Peaceful’ to transfer to the Garrick Theatre

Simon Reade’s adaptation of Michael Morpugo’s poignant first world war novel Private Peaceful will transfer to the Garrick Theatre in London’s West End this November.

Emily Costello will make her West End debut as Private Tommo, a young soldier who reminisces about his short life whilst waiting for the firing squad at dawn. During the night he relives his joyful past growing up in the countryside, his loves, the loss of his family and the battles and injustices of war which brought him to the front line.

It’s the first time the role of Private Tommo has been performed by a female on the professional stage with War Horse scribe Morpugo calling her performance ‘extraordinary’. The two-hander will also feature James Demaine who will play multiple roles.

Private Peaceful transfers from the Barn Theatre in Cirencester where it opened to 4 and 5-star reviews this August.

The production will play a limited two-week season at the Garrick Theatre running from 7 – 22 November 2020, with a Remembrance Day Gala and Press Night in aid of the Royal British Legion and Farms for City Children at 7pm on 11 November. There will also be a special 11.01am performance on 11 November.

Michael Morpurgo said of the transfer, “Private Peaceful, the play adapted for the stage by Simon Reade, has had a long and remarkable journey. From book to play to film, the story has grown in stature with each transformation.  But perhaps now has been the most remarkable moment.  With theatres shut down all over the country, The Barn Theatre in Cirencester decided to put on its first indoor show, one of the first in the country .. that has garnered glowing reviews, and is shortly on its way to the Garrick Theatre in London.  This is our theatre at its courageous best: powerful, innovative, unforgettable. Theatre is on its way back, coming home!”

Simon Reade added, “Private Peaceful is arguably the most moving and profound of all Michael Morpurgo’s extraordinary stories. Since I first adapted it for the theatre as a one-man show in 2004, it has toured the world, been adapted into a large-cast play for schools and youth theatres, recorded for BBC Radio 4 and made into a feature film starring George Mackay and Jack O’Connell. 

“And now comes this refreshing new production from BoxLess Theatre and the enterprising Barn Theatre, Cirencester, which has reinvented the original stage play, blazing a trail for audiences hungry to return to
theatre and celebrate all humanity as we live on through these dark times; it is a beacon of hope and a thing of joy for all of us.”

Private Peaceful is directed by Alexander Knott, with Zöe Grain as associate director and movement director and composition by James Demaine.  Sound design is by Harry Smith and lighting design by Sam Rowcliffe-Tanner.

This production forms part of Nimax Theatre’s plan to reopen its theatres and will be the first new production to be staged indoors in London’s West End since the Government closed theatres in March. Capacity at the venue has been reduced to comply with COVID-19 Secure guidelines for social distancing plus robust risk mitigation. procedures put in place.

Tickets for Private Peaceful are on sale soon.

Production images from Private Peaceful at the Barn Theatre, Cirencester.


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