Paying ultimate price for loyalty in a time of war

Shane O'Regan, who plays some 30 characters in Private Peaceful, the stage adaptaion of Michael Morpurgo's novel of the same name. PHOTO: TOM LAWLOR.
Shane O'Regan, who plays some 30 characters in Private Peaceful, the stage adaptaion of Michael Morpurgo's novel of the same name. PHOTO: TOM LAWLOR.

Arts Week with Judy Murphy

Actor Shane O’Regan is animated as he describes the powerful story behind Private Peaceful, a one-man drama based on a Michael Morpurgo’s novel of the same name, which comes to the Town Hall Theatre on Monday, May 29, presented by Verdant and Pemberley Productions.

Morpurgo is best known for Warhorse, the iconic novel centring on World War I that went on to enjoy massive stage and screen success.

Private Peaceful is also set during the Great War and charts the life of young soldier, Tommo Peaceful. Originally from a Devon village, Tommo sits in a prison cell, looking back on his life while he waits for dawn to come when he will face a firing squad for cowardice.

“You really feel like you are seeing his entire life playing out in front of your eyes,” observes Shane of the one-man show, which was adapted for stage by Simon Reade who also directs. Reade has previously directed work for Bath’s Theatre Royal, Bristol’s Old Vic and for the RSC where he was Literary Manager and Dramaturg. His 2004 adaptation of Private Peaceful has had several productions which toured throughout the UK, Sweden and North America. This new production marks its Irish premiere.

Private Peaceful highlights the horrors of war while celebrating the joy of life and the importance of family.

Many of Tommo’s memories are of his elder brother. Since childhood, Tommo and Charlie have done everything together – they’ve eaten together, fallen asleep together, faced adversity together – they’ve even fallen in love with the same girl.

But the two men face unprecedented challenges in the battlefields of Flanders, when an ordinary soldier’s heroism can be dismissed as cowardice by his superiors . . . with dreadful consequences.

Shane first heard of Private Peaceful when his agent sent him the script so he could audition for the piece.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.