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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Private Peaceful and Bottleneck

I went to see these shows on Sunday (there was a mini mix up with me attending wrong show at first but thats long story lol) the Bedford pub in Balham hosted by Theatre N16 a theatre company founded in North London before moving across the Thames to SW12 in South London but for time being retaining it's former postcode in its name. It was a nice cosy pub with a little theatre at the top and the actors sure do make you feel a part of the show acting out the plays, which was nice little shock for someone like me.

The first of the 2 performances was Private Peaceful a one person show performed by Shana Swash who people will recall played Demi Miller in Eastenders, and has been a great supporter of Enders fan clubs like the American Charlotte NC Eastenders fanclub and sharing insights and stories from her days on the show on twitter. Shana performs 20 different characters but the main one she performs is Tommo Peaceful a WWI solder and is the first female to perform the role in this play by Michael Mopurgo which she performed well. It lasted for over an hour and tells the story of a guy in modern day called Chris Palamountain reading the journal notes of Tommo who at the start is revealed in modern age to have been given a posthumous pardon for his execution due to cowardice. Tommo comes to life through the journal reading, telling us about his London upbringing the characters he encounters and relationship with big brother Charlie (Shana at times does seem to channel a bit of her real life brother Joe who also played Demi's brother Mickey in EastEnders), and the accidental death of Tommos father. Then we see him join the army (I loved how Shana portrayed a character very much like Lord Kitchener a highlight) lying about his age as many youngsters did, then going out to France his experiences in the trenches with his brother, before his tragic execution it was a great emotional play, and got me thinking of the words of the late Henry Allingham one of the last surviving Tommie's and UKs oldest ever man who stated frequently not to forget his comrades who had fallen in the trenches during the First World War including some of the characters in the play

Once that was finished it was onto Bottleneck which for most of it was a lot more light hearted than the previous one with plenty of comedy performed by Will Mytum, and was honoured to be a prop for his character jumping around the place, a first in attending theatre plays outside of Abbotsford School. It was about a 15 year old Scouser schoolboy, his experiences of teenage life sometime in the late 20th century when Liverpool FC were still the best football team in England. It features his quest to save up money to attend his first match watching the Reds live, and he goes to all kinds of measures with his friend to get tickets including robbing a place and going into police car smelling of wee, and there are many funny other moments along the way, including his first encounter with girls, and then having enough money to make their way to their first Liverpool FC match. They make their way through countryside a bit like Emmerdale before arriving at a city called Sheffield, then there is a dark twist and the play goes in a different direction once the words 'Gates are open' as it hits the young lads and the audience we are at Hillsborough Stadium for the 1989 FA Cup semi final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, they get caught up in the Hillsborough disaster a clever twist and emotional sad ending to a fine play.   


All in all both are great shows that I enjoyed and recommend watching if you are in the area.   


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