CHARLIE PEACE – HIS AMAZING LIFE AND ASTOUNDING LEGEND
by Michael Eaton.
Nottingham Playhouse Wellington Circus NG1 5AF To 19 October.
Tue-Sat 7.45pm Mat 12 October 2.30pm, 17th October 1.30pm.
BSL Signed 11 Oct.
TICKETS: 0115 941 9419.
then Belgrade Theatre Belgrade Square CV1 1GS.
25 October-16 November 2013.
Mon-Sat 8pm except 29 Oct 7pm Mat 2, 9, 13, 16 Nov 2.45pm.
Audio-described 16 Nov 2.45pm.
Captioned 15 Nov.
TICKETS: 024 7655 3055.
Review: Jen Mitchell 8 October.
Runs 2hr 40min. One interval.
Peace on show in two of our towns.
Set within a fairground booth at a Victorian Goose Fair, the audience become viewers of a cunning play within a play – none of Nottingham playwright Michael Eaton’s new drama about notorious Victorian villain Charles Peace is straightforward. Charlie is keen to give us his side of the story and frequently steps outside the main action to put forward his take on events.
Peter Duncan is an interesting and challenging Charlie Peace – he has none of the grim facial gurning capabilities of Peace but manages to be morally repugnant enough for us to wonder how he was such a success with women – even to the extent of convincing his Nottingham paramour to move to London and set up home with him and his ‘mother’ (in fact his long-suffering wife).
Duncan really comes into his own in the final minutes of the play as he delivers a blistering speech challenging the audience to examine their own consciences. Norman Pace is excellent as the showman who acts as narrator and moral commentator, with hyperbolic flair. The talented ensemble cast add layer upon layer as they assemble outside the show tent as a band with their various instruments – selecting clothes from a rail and taking on all the other characters in the piece.
The real show-stopper is the set, designed in part by graphic artist Eddie Campbell. The small sideshow tent is compact and claustrophobic. Much of the set is two dimensional within it, adding to the artifice. Projections change the venue to many of Peace’s old haunts, including his lodgings in Narrow Marsh in Nottingham and, finally, the gallows in Armley Prison in Leeds where he was hanged in 1879.
James Crosgrove/Nottingham Police Sergeant/Ensemble: Charlie De Bromhead.
Charlie Peace: Peter Duncan.
Reverend Littlewood/Inspector Bradbury/Ensemble: Nicholas Goode.
Katherine/Susan: Bridie Higson.
Willie Ward/Nottingham Police Constable/Ensemble: Alex Mugnaioni.
Showman: Norman Pace.
William Marwood/Arthur Dyson/Ensemble: Philip Rham.
Hannah Peace/Ma Adamson: Mia Soteriou.
Director: Giles Croft.
Designer: Barney George.
Lighting: Nick Morris.
Sound: Adam P McCready.
Artist: Eddie Campbell.
Composer/Musical Director: Jonathan Girling.
Projections: William Simpson.