Peace In Our Time, The Union Theatre - ★★★★ - Until April 4, 2020

Image courtesy of The Union Theatre, London.

This is a Noël Coward you are probably not familiar with. After WW II, he wrote this more serious play based on the premise that the Nazis had won the Battle of Britain and had occupied the country. There are flashes of Coward's usual humour but the overall tone is quite serious. There is an almost Orwellian tone to the work as we see the new regime bombard Londoners with propaganda about how they have been liberated and the country is now back in business again. Coward, who was a committed patriot, based the play on his experience of occupied France. We are shown how a variety of people respond to what in France's case we now term the German occupation, but which at the time could easily have been a new, permanent reality. The present production beautifully creates the eerie quality of this life with its half-lit set and candles that suggest the fragile light of hope in this place. Situated in a pub near Sloane Square, the regulars run the gamut in terms of how they deal with the new order, from collaboration to resistance. Patrick Bailey as the landlord, Fred Shattock, is a convincing steady hand in the complex circumstances he is faced with, and Virge Gilchrist as his wife, Nora, puts in a strong performance. Indeed, all members of the large cast succeed in individuating and personalising their roles and the range of responses they bring to this new order. The characters are mostly creatives, and it is vintage Coward that the most pusillanimous is a critic. However, ultimately this is a play which celebrates the spirit and resilience of Londoners in a time of crisis. It offers a message that couldn't be more appropriate to current circumstances!

Reviewed by J.C.

 Our Score:  ☆☆☆☆ 

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WHEN, WHERE, GETTING THERE:
Until April 4, 2020
Tue - Sat: 7:30 pm
Sat & Sun: 2:30 pm (from March 21)
The Union Theatre
Nearest tube: Southwark
http://www.uniontheatre.biz/peace-in-our-time.html

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