A Separate Peace by Tom Stoppard.

During this unprecedented time during the Covid 19 lockdown creatives and Theatre companies have been trying to come up with new ideas to keep the industry alive and raise some money for those who are now out of work until the Theatres reopen.

The performance of A Separate Peace lasted approximately thirty minutes comprising of five characters. David Morrissey’s central character John Brown had called ahead to Staff Nurse (Maggie Service) asking if the hospital had a spare bed for an emergency.

When he turns up at the hospital as arranged the Staff Nurse asks him “what is wrong with him?” To which he doesn’t have an answer apart from a slightly sore finger. After trying to ascertain what his medical emergency is Brown explains it was an emergency although nothing medical appears to be wrong.

This raises suspicions by the Dr (Denise Gough) and Matron (Ed Stoppard) as to why a healthy man wants to be there. What has he done or who is hiding from? After various conversations between then, they never ascertain a reason. They ask Nurse Maggie Coates (Jenna Coleman) to befriend him and find out his reasons for being in a hospital. Surely nobody wants to just be there.

In truth, Brown isn’t hiding from anyone he just wants a break from every day and does absolutely nothing. Regular mealtimes and a simple routine are all he requires. With a bag full of money to cover the cost of his stay he doesn’t understand why it raises so much concern or be such an issue with him staying.

Matron isn’t satisfied with Brown simply doing nothing and suggests he should try basket weaving which wasn’t a success and then painting. Brown decides against using the paper provided for him and brings his room to life with a detailed countryside scene of rolling fields and trees. He explains to Nurse Coates that he wanted to bring the outside inside without going outside. The mural takes shape nicely behind Morrissey in phases as the painting and his stay progressed.

Using the Zoom meetings platform app the five actors in this production entered and exited in a similar manner to a staged performance. Dressed in black against a white background the performance is focused on its delivery alone. Only those who were in each scene were visible. For a written piece like this, I thought it worked extremely well. Although this production isn’t very long it isn’t short in its delivery.

Originally written for Television in 1964 this particular Tom Stoppard’s production has been performed to raise money for stage technicians and creatives along with supporting The Felix Project food charity too. When stuck in our metaphorical boxes during this lockdown there’s no better time to think outside of it.

Four Stars

CAST

John Brown – David Morrissey (Hangmen, Britannia, The Walking Dead)

Nurse Maggie Coates – Jenna Coleman (Victoria, Doctor Who)Doctor- 

Denise Gough (two time Olivier Award winner for People, Places and Things and Angels in America)

Matron – Ed Stoppard (Tom Stoppard’s Leopoldsdtadt in the West End)

Nurse – Maggie Service (Quiz on ITV, W1A, Call The Midwife)


CREATIVE TEAM

Director Sam Yates
(The Starry Messenger with Matthew Broderick, Wyndham’s Theatre and The Phlebotomist, Hampstead Theatre Downstairs; Film: The Hope Rooms with Andrew Scott and Ciarán Hinds, Cymbeline with Hayley Atwell, All’s Well That Ends Well with Ruth Wilson and Lindsay Duncan).
Video Designer Andrzej Goulding
Sound Designer Sam Glossop
Costume Designer Amelia Sierevogel
Lighting Designer Nat GreenTech Designer Tim KashaniStage Manager Georgia Bird
Production Manager Kate West
Deputy Stage Manager Kim Battistini
PR Kevin Wilson PR
Producer Curtain CallCo-producer Platform Presents
Co-producer Apples & Oranges Arts
Partner Shubert Organization
Sponsor SHURESponsor ZoomCharity The Felix Project

2 thoughts on “A Separate Peace by Tom Stoppard.

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