New York | 1h 25m | Already closed

Private Peaceful

From 21 critic and 130 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Intense, Masterful, Riveting

About the show

This new one-man play, adapted from the young adult novel by Michael  Morpurgo ('War Horse'), offers a timely reminder of the heroic sacrifices that were made by the soldiers in World War I. More…

The story follows the life of a young soldier, Thomas ‘Tommo’ Peaceful, facing the firing squad for cowardice. As Tommo sits in his cell awaiting sunrise, he thinks back on the events that made him the person he is today. When the lines of heroism and cowardice collide, what can one man or even a brother do to fight the injustices of it all? The play highlights the dreadful horrors of war while celebrating the joyfulness of life.

1h 25m | Already closed | TBG Mainstage Theatre (Midtown W)

Daily Beast

"An intense tour de force...A stunning performance...This powerful play has been cleverly and movingly adapted and directed...O’Regan, Reader, and Bhatia make us graphically feel the terror of being cannon fodder, fighting for one’s country amid the mud, rats, and rain...In playing so many characters so brilliantly, O’Regan also paints, better than multiple actors could, all the influences, good and bad, that contribute to the psychological canvas of the sweet-but-scarred Tommo himself." Full Review

City Cabaret

"With Reade's direction, O'Regan uses the space of the stage will full physicality, leaping and rolling around like an 8-year-old boy...Physically and emotionally, O'Regan effortlessly inhabits the roles of 24 characters...Young men off to war is not a new story. Nor is the choice of knowing instinctively what is right and moral, even in war, or following orders. Yet Shane O'Regan's cocksure perceptive of Tommo gives a powerful reminder of war's horrors." Full Review


"The scope of O'Regan's performance is impressive...His work is masterfully skilled and technically precise, but it's also vibrantly alive. He creates unique portrayals and tics for every person featured...Reade's production is swift, and he really knows how to raise the suspense...Simplicity is the name of the game...Sometimes all you need is one exceptional actor and a resourceful script to bring the fireworks to the stage.” Full Review

DC Metro Theater Arts

"Compelling stage adaptation...It’s a story that’s devastating to watch (even for adults, much less for children), but important to hear....Shane O’Regan stars in the demanding one-man show, turning in an emotionally-gripping and physically-expressive tour-de-force performance...A deeply shocking examination of the devastation wrought by war on innocent people, with a profoundly disturbing message of man’s inhumanity to man." Full Review

Stage Left

“O’Regan is a thoroughly engaging and energetic performer who moves about and fills a nearly empty blackbox with the joyful ferociousness of a child at play—a purposeful technique of director and adapter Simon Reade’s crisp production...O’Regan’s mastery of subtle dialects and accents captures the world-expanding experience of Tommo’s adolescent voyage...An intense, beautiful, and memorable evening of devastating storytelling.” Full Review

No Bull

“A resonant piece...Deep and meaningful...Reade did a fantastic job directing this one act play. O’Regan, in constant movement made this eighty minutes fly by. We were engrossed in this boy’s life, we felt for this young man, we wanted to defend him, we loved Charlie for doing this for us...O’Reagan, up for multiple awards back in the UK, as is Morpurgo, delivers the goods in a big way, His accents of other people, his movements, his explosiveness is not to be missed.” Full Review


"Irish actor Shane O’Regan magnetically holds the stage...O’Regan brings the title character to vibrant, often ebullient life...Tommo becomes an actual person desperate to recount the days of his life and the value of them before they end in an unjust death. And with O’Regan’s intensity, Reade’s staging, Anshuman Bhatia’s lighting design, and Jason Barnes’ sound, the trenches and the battlefields become a virtual reality." Full Review

New York Stage Review

"A taut, tension-filled 85-minute one-man telling...I haven’t seen the 2012 film—which marked the late Richard Griffiths’ final performance—but I’ll wager that this solo show, performed with great heart and ferocity by Shane O’Regan, is far more compelling...All of the detail—and there’s a surprising amount packed into such a lean production—comes from Morpurgo’s story, Reade’s script, and O’Regan’s finely shaded characterizations." Full Review

New Yorker

"Morpurgo interviewed veterans of the First World War...His resulting young-adult novel, about a teenage soldier subjected to humiliation and violence at the hands of his bullying commanders, has echoes of ‘Catch-22’, without the comedy. In Reade’s excellent, dreamlike adaptation for the stage, the story unfolds as a dramatic monologue by the title character, played by the talented O’Regan, who, in the course of eighty-five minutes, also inhabits twenty-three other roles.” Full Review

Time Out New York

"The story may sound familiar, but you’ve likely never seen O’Regan, who makes a spectacular U.S. debut. It’s exhilarating to watch him inhabit the tale’s two dozen characters, switching accents and attitudes like Sybil on steroids. Even more impressive than his versatility is his ability to tap into your imagination as well as your emotions...He’s playing a private, but it’s a four-star performance." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"Tommo and Charlie are only two of millions of anonymous soldiers, but what happens to them approaches the level of tragedy. That this is so can be attributed to Simon Reade's sensitive adaptation of Morpurgo's text...I'd happier if I could have reported that Reade's direction wasn't quite so busy, finding a fussy bit of stage business for each moment and character...Still, O'Regan, who is possessed of untold funds of energy, conjures up...a universe of characters." Full Review

New York Theater

“’Private Peaceful’ has none of the elaborate stagecraft of the earlier 'War Horse’...But it has its own, modest stage magic, thanks to actor O’Regan, who portrays Tommo Peaceful and some two dozen other characters in an impressively broad range of affects and accents...The actor’s accents and actions are not always crystal clear. Still, there is some nuanced craft in the way...Reade works with O’Regan to present contrasting scenes of war and peace, as the essence of grace and disgrace.” Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

"There really isn't much…that hasn't been seen or heard in the dozens of earlier plays and movies about World War I...'Private Peaceful'…registers principally as an opportunity for O'Regan to embody 24 characters…In performance…it becomes more a display of the actor's considerable vocal and physical craft-with one dramatic moment following the other in rapid succession-than the emotionally powerful experience it deserves to be." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"There are few more daunting theatrical challenges than making the familiar seem fresh, which is why one must salute solo performer Shane O'Regan's ability to keep the audience so attentive throughout most of the 80 minutes...Even if you've never read the novel or seen its film adaptation, this tale contains very little we haven't heard before. Yet O'Regan's incredibly committed and strikingly energetic performance almost makes you feel he's covering completely new ground." Full Review

The New York Times

"O’Regan attacks the various roles like he’s engaged in a full-body, full-spirit workout...This actorly excellence (and he really is excellent) is a kind of smoke screen — a gas attack, if you’re feeling nasty — for the cruelty, the unsparing feel-badness of the play. The original novel is a heart-tugger, absolutely, but Reade’s adaptation, which fiddles with an essential story point, leaves it pretty well devoid of hope...It’s clear what Reade’s adaptation is fighting against, but what is it... Full Review


"O’Regan’s exceptional performance and Reade’s highly theatrical staging invigorates ‘Private Peaceful’, a familiar and formulaic World War I solo play...This dutiful treatment of the subject matter would perhaps be best appreciated by adolescent audiences. Anyone else could find it to be a by the numbers narrative with presentational flourishes...’Private Peaceful’ does have its virtues but is a relatively flat experience.” Full Review

The Arts Review

for a previous production "'Private Peaceful' still retains a sucker punch sting in its tail, and more than compensates for a lack of grit with some old, English countryside charm and generous lashings of nostalgia...Under Reade’s direction, O’Regan delivers a simply superb performance, wonderfully restrained...With its dramatic, thematic, and theatrical integrity, 'Private Peaceful' delivers a delightfully engaging production, one built around an astoundingly wonderful solo performance." Full Review


for a previous production “This isn’t the first time Reade has adapted Morpurgo’s novel. In fact, it’s not even the first time he’s adapted it to stage, and it shows in how crisp, unfussy and streamlined the central story is...This piece would live or die based on how its solo performer handles the emotional wringer. Good thing it’s O’Regan doing it...O’Regan is a phenomenal storyteller and performer, and all the myriad characters are instantly, utterly clear.” Full Review


for a previous production "The insanity of war has been captured with bleak, quivering intensity...Morpurgo paints a livid portrait of a living hell, and the defiant ability to hold on to shreds of humanity even when mindless brutality seems the sensible option...With O'Regan superbly vulnerable and touching as Tommo. It's a powerhouse performance that requires as much technique as it does emotional talent...It should not be missed." Full Review

No More Workhorse

for a previous production "Features only one cast member, with O’Regan playing all 24 characters. He changes quickly between innocent children and old hags, and everything in between...The story is quite a simple, straightforward one...It is a very impressive performance, one which shows endurance and great versatility by O’Regan. It is extremely difficult to command an audience’s attention for that length of time, but his energy level never dips as he tells the story through a wide range of characters." Full Review


for a previous production "This play is a classic story and O’Regan engulfs the stage to deliver his passionate performance...O’Regan slips into all of these roles with incredible ease...He proves himself as a talented shapeshifter, and a well accomplished character actor...The second half meandered. Simon Reade, as both writer and director could have tightened the flow of the progression of war. But there were some moving scenes...This play would be a great one for families." Full Review

Mesmerizing, Masterful, Captivating, Must-see theatre at its most evocative, Incredibly moving & heartfelt performance

See it if seeking a riveting, beautiful, heartfelt, simply stunning work of storytelling and acting. You won’t see anything as compelling on Broadway.

Don't see it if unwilling to be lured in by absolutely engrossing work; seeking spectacle. Note: may trigger strong emotions through war themes / gun shots.

Also An energetic, emotional, and enervating one-man-work, Private Peaceful... Read more Read less

Great acting, Intense, Riveting, Masterful, Resonant

See it if You want to see an excellent solo show about a young man who enters World War I without thinking about the dire consequences.

Don't see it if I can’t think of a reason not to see this show.

Absorbing, Great writing, Brilliant acting, Strong anti war statement, Masterful

See it if you like brilliant acting. This one man show is breathtaking. He assumes all of the roles and switches between characters flawlessly. SEE IT

Don't see it if you want a traditional play or you want a musical. This play is important and the actor is as good as it gets. Don't miss it.

Absorbing, Must see, Great acting, Masterful

See it if a brilliant one-man show playing 24 parts but mostly 16yo Tommo and his brother Charlie who sign up to fight WWl. phenomenal performance.

Don't see it if you don't like one person shows. like superficial lighthearted fare.

Also the lead , Shane O'Regan is absolutely brilliant. If you are not blown... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Ambitious, Intelligent, Intense

See it if Powerful, well paced but sad exploration of how youth (thru nationalism, economics, their psychology, & manipulation) are led to war.

Don't see it if you don't want to see riveting one man show

Absorbing, Masterful, Great acting, Exquisite

See it if From the get-go, Shane completely draws you in and never lets you go. Such a tremendous performance. I felt like I grew up alongside him

Don't see it if Actor does have a noticeable Irish accent (quite tolerable however). Story itself does fall into typical wartime cliche.

Also A moving experience and his ample sweat across his forehead is well-ea... Read more Read less

Great acting, Ambitious, Intense, Riveting, Thought-provoking

See it if You like great acting. The solo actor played so many different roles with amazing skill. The story was riveting

Don't see it if You don't like serious theater or the topic of war

Absorbing, Great writing, Thought-provoking

See it if If you love stories about life and the tough choices humans encounter.

Don't see it if you are not a fan of war stories.

Absorbing, Great acting, Profound, Riveting, Thought-provoking

See it if You want to see an exceptional actor, Shane O’Regan, brilliantly play over 20 roles in a heart wrenching tale of familial love and World War

Don't see it if You don’t like solo shows or have trouble understanding Irish accents.

Also This was an incredibly moving experience and a exceptionally acted pla... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Entertaining, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Intelligent

See it if you like the works of Michael Morpurgo (War Horse), one man shows, exceptional acting. Shane O'Regan is fabulous, playing all 20+ parts.

Don't see it if you don't like one man shows or history based shows.

Also Show ended its run in New York on 10/7. Going on tour to Chicago and e... Read more Read less

Amazing one-man show with 24 characters

See it if Taut, well-written and well-acted one-act drama about a young irishman turned WWI soldier. Shane O’Regan is a superstar.

Don't see it if The only reason not to see this show is if you can’t sit still for 80 minutes.

Absorbing, Entertaining, Great acting, Resonant

See it if You like coming of age and war stories and one-man shows, you like the theatre stripped down to it's raw form with writing and acting

Don't see it if war stories aren't you're thing, you're looking for a more flashy/prop-filled show

Absorbing, Great acting, Ambitious, Great staging, Intelligent

See it if You appreciate one actor shows where the actor beautifully portrays a variety of characters. You like shows about WWI.

Don't see it if You don't like one-man shows. You don't like shows about war. You only want to see musicals or feel good plays.

Absorbing, Great acting

See it if best solo performance I have ever seen!Do not miss this powerful and moving play.It will keep you thinking long after you leave the theater.

Don't see it if do not miss this once in a lifetime performance by Shane O'Regan,it will break your heart, and inspire you at the same time.

Also I was touched by the bond between this two brothers,the selflessness o... Read more Read less

Great acting, Absorbing, Relevant, Riveting

See it if you want to see outstanding acting.

Don't see it if you don't like one person shows.

Also An acting tour de force. The play was good but not as good as the perf... Read more Read less

Entertaining, Great acting, Great staging, Great writing

See it if Shane O’Regan is sensational in this one-man show about a British lad's life leading up to his experience on the battle field of World War 1

Don't see it if This is one of those must-sees to experience an outstanding actor who takes you to a dark place in world's history but remains hopeful.

Great acting, Intense, Great writing

See it if you want to see a really great actor play lots of different roles with a love story and World War

Don't see it if you can't get good seats, it can be difficult to hear all the subtleties of different dialects.

Absorbing, Edgy, Great staging, Great acting, Masterful

See it if You want as frenetic paced play with s great plot. O Regan is excellent.

Don't see it if If you dont want a ww1 story . A sad story.

Grim, Moving, Sad, Intense, Great acting

See it if Solo actor vividly depicts relationships prior to the war with color and flair, evoking a life filled with love, friendship & humor.

Don't see it if Then comes being shelled & terrified in a trench. The ending is bleak. Thick accent & poor acoustics.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Resonant

See it if Excellent performance. At times I had difficulty with the accent but overall, I was completely absorbed in the characters all played by one

Don't see it if You have difficulty with accents or you don’t like one actor playing several parts.

Absorbing, Great acting, Ambitious, Great staging, Intense

See it if U can handle a fast pace drama, 1 man show.This's an intense story & the actor does a great job only playing male characters

Don't see it if If you don't like intense drama war related stories. Can't stand an adult playing a child for a long perid and rushing through the words.

Great acting, Absorbing, Thought-provoking

See it if you'd like a high-energy, moving performance by a captivating young actor

Don't see it if you want a well-thought-out story arch or an "ah-ha" moment; the play simply ends, without any attempt to shine a light on the "why"

Also Sadly, something was missing from this play, despite the actor's incre... Read more Read less

Great acting

See it if you enjoy one person shows, stories of The Great War, or excellent acting.

Don't see it if (see above!)

Great acting, Ambitious, Absorbing, Good direction, Great tech (lights, set & sound)

See it if You like shows written and performed from the heart. A beautiful, heart-felt production that grabs you and stays with you.

Don't see it if I was in row B and the sound bounced off the brick walls, making it hard for me to understand all his dialect. Sit further back & enjoy.

Also I saw the Brits Off Broadway production of Private Peaceful starring A... Read more Read less

Clever, Entertaining, Great acting