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Private Peaceful - The Return Season - Review

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by Annette Vandersluis (subscribe)
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Raw, Intense, and Heartbreaking
Ben Francis' performance in Private Peaceful The Return Season is nothing short of brilliant! Private Peaceful is based on a novel by Michael Morpurgo (War Horse) and adapted for the stage by Simon Reade. This is the story of Thomas "Tommo" Peaceful, a young lad from Devon, who follows his brother Charlie to war at just 15 years of age and through very real circumstance and injustice, finds himself arbitrarily court-martialed and sentenced to death as a coward.

private peaceful, the return season, ben francis, bakehouse theatre, war, world war one, world war i, play
Photo: The Bakehouse Theatre

As an audience, you will share Private Peaceful's final night as he recalls his most precious memories and regrets. You will hear about his first day at school, his first fight, his first sight of an aeroplane, meet Molly who ties his shoes and steals his heart and experience the love he has for his disabled brother. You will hear him decide to go to war at just 15, and then live with him through the horrors. You will fight the final battle with him and comfort his wounded brother and then, despite having done everything morally right, your heart will break as he is court-martialled, sentenced and while singing his favourite song, Oranges and Lemons, hear him executed.

private peaceful, the return season, ben francis, bakehouse theatre, war, world war one, world war i, play
Photo: The Bakehouse Theatre

This 80-minute performance (without interval) flew by in an instance. Ben Francis is undeniably every one of the characters he portrays regardless of age or gender. Whether he is the bully, his favourite teacher or Sergeant Hanley, the cruel and arguably criminal Sergeant whose order to advance into no man's land he disobeys to stay with his injured brother, Ben Francis is convincingly each and every one. You will feel his emotions, and live every memory with him as he conveys what the textbooks and museums do not the raw, intense and personal tragedy of war.

At just 18 years of age, Ben is accomplishing what many much older actors cannot, and I cannot help but feel that this very talented young man has an enormously successful career ahead of him.

The setting of the Bakehouse Theatre, Angas Street, Adelaide was perfect for this outstanding performance. The set was thoughtfully created and used magnificently by Ben. Not normally a theatregoer, if performances such as this are anything to go by, I will be watching out for more offerings in this eclectic space.
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*Annette Vandersluis was invited as a guest
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Why? A wonderful story.
Phone: 8227 0505
Where: The Bakehouse Theatre, 255 Angas Street, Adelaide
Your Comment
Annette, you have captured the poignancy of this theatre piece - well done!
by Elaine (score: 3|6764) 580 days ago
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