Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo

Photographs included courtesy of Peter Sillick.

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Private Peaceful was directed by Ruth Ahmed

Review of Private Peaceful in the Farnham Herald

The first collaboration between two local theatre goups, Tilford Players and Bourne Players, was Private Peaceful which sold out last Saturday night and brought the talented actors a standing ovation.

Adapted by Simon Reade from Morpurgo’s novel, this play traces the story of two young brothers, Thomas (“Tommo”) and Charlie Peaceful, as their lives move relentlessly from idyllic childhood in a Devon village to horrified adolescence in the WW1 trenches. Tommo tells the story as he keeps an all-night vigil before a moment of reckoning - or is it a moment of horror - which ends the play.

Creative and innovative director Ruth Ahmed again sets the bar so very high. With her passionate commitment to all things authentic Ruth has brought into being a production that more than deserves to be seen! The set changes seamlessly from schoolroom to kitchen to bar, barracks and trenches.

The ensemble cast morph silently between a vivid array of characters and the two leading roles are played superbly by two exceptional young actors. Callum Chowdhury inhabits the character of Tommo with a sensitivity and conviction that belies his age – just 17 years old; while Miles Molan plays the role of Charlie with the fluid ease and authenticity of a seasoned professional. And he’s only 15 years old! (No wonder the National Youth Theatre has snatched him up!)

The audience can’t help but wonder how on earth two who are so young can so effectively portray the spirit of these challenging roles, until we chillingly recall that the very soldiers these two are representing were exactly the same sort of age... Special mention must also go to Cameron Hole – another 15-year old - for his almost silent but excellent physically voluble portrayal of the not quite ‘zactly Big Joe.

Jane Quicke

What a triumph!

Please pass on to Director and cast my congratulations on an outstanding production. The two young leads were brilliant, but so was everyone else. There wasn't a weak member of the cast at all. Their energy, when required, and their contrasting times of stillness and silence were so impressive, and the moves from stage to floor and back again were seamless, as were their changing in and out of different roles. It's a long time since I have been so moved and enthralled by a production.

Many, many thanks, Joan Cotterill.