Morpurgo’s Private Peaceful fills gap at Haymarket, 18-29 SepDate: 18 May 2012
Thanks to the National Theatre, audiences will be able to see two Michael Morpurgo page-to-stage adaptations in the West End this September. While this year’s Whatsonstage.com Award-winning Best West End Show War Horse continues its galloping box office success at the New London, the much smaller-scale adaptation of Private Peaceful, Morpurgo’s 2003 children’s novel set in the trenches of World War I, will play for 16 performances only at the Theatre Royal Haymarket from 18 to 29 September 2012.
The Haymarket is currently home to another NT hit, Richard Bean’s Goldoni-inspired One Man, Two Guvnors. Private Peaceful fills a gap while the Bean cast take a two-week contractual holiday, after which the comedy continues its run from 1 October.
Private Peaceful tells the heart-wrenching story of Tommo, a young First World War soldier awaiting the firing squad at dawn. During the night, he relives his short but vivid past: his terrifying first day at school; the accident in the forest that killed his father; late-night poaching with Molly, the love of his life; and the battles and injustices of war that have brought him to the front line.
The novel was inspired by a visit to Ypres where Morpurgo was shocked to discover how many young soldiers were court-martialled and shot for cowardice during the First World War.
The one-man stage play is adapted and directed by Simon Reade, who premiered it in 2004 at Bristol Old Vic, where he was then artistic director. The Scamp Theatre production has since toured the UK extensively, played the Edinburgh festival four times, and had London seasons at Soho Theatre and Trafalgar Studios.
The production is designed by Bill Talbot with sound by Jason Barnes. Casting for the Haymarket dates has yet to be announced. A film version, also adapted by Reade, is due for UK release this autumn, with a cast including George Mackay as Tommo, Richard Griffiths and Maxine Peake.
The National Theatre presents Private Peaceful, a Scamp Theatre production in association with Poonamallee Productions, by arrangement with the Theatre Royal Haymarket.