A Separate Peace by Tom Stoppard. One off performance on Remote Read. 2 May 2020. 4****. William Russell

At times like these needs must and this live performance for Remote Read of Tomn Stoppared’s 1964 short play written for television was indeed a brave experiment at trying something new with the cast performing live backed by a full stage crew of creatives.
Directed by Sam Yates it was a fascinating tale about John Brown who arrives at a private nursing home and says he wishes to stay there. He is in sound health, has no need of nursing and his suitcase is stuffed with the wherewithal to pay. He is also charming, persuasive and harmless,beguiling all who come his way from Matron to the home’s psychiatrist and most of all the pretty young nurse who is allocated to care for him.
His battle of wits with the matron and the doctor, who are baffled by his wish to stay, and his growing delight in the presence of his nurse, is charming and ultimately intriguing. After all what is wrong with wanting to do one’s own thing if it harms nobody? Why should anyone conform to the demands of society which would not ensure they were any better off?
Brown can afford his care, is happy where he is, and is neither in danger our dangerous. But, of course, nobody leaves well alone.
The actors performed from wherever they were, which must have been a considerable technical feat and did add that extra frisson live performances possess – the audience knows it is in the presence of something happening.
The brunt of the piece was borne by David Morrissey as Brown, charming, unflappable, with an answer to everything and always perfectly sensible when making demands his chosen hosts could not understand. Thrlationship between him and the nurse, played with great tact by Jenna Colman looking ravishing came across, in spite of all the electronic barriers, beautifully and his battle of wits with the matron and the doctor was amusing and heart warming. But, of course, nobody leaves well alone.
Future choices, this is the first in a series of one off plays performed live, will be interesting to see.The Stoppard got away with it being basically heads talking heads, but the approach may not work with other plays.
A Separate Peace was a ticketed event held to raise money for out of work creatives, technicians and the Felix Project food charity. It was produced by Curtain Call with Platform Present & Apple & Oranges Arts.
John Brown: David Morrissey.
Nurse Maggie Coates: Jenna Coleman.
Doctor: Denise Gough.
Matron: Ed Stoppard.
Nurse: Maggie Service.

Director: Sam Yates.
Video Designer: Andrzej Goulding.
Sound Designer: Sam Glossop.
Costume Designer: Amelia Sierevogel.
Lighting Designer: Nat Green.
Tech Designer: Tim Kashani.
Stage Manager: Georgia Bird.
Production Manager: Kate West.
Deputy Stage Manager: Kim Battistini.
PR: Kevin Wilson PR.

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