Peaceful – but tense – my first Play4Free

Play4Free at the King’s Arms includes 15 plays over the course of January and showcases both new writing and previously performed work.  Of course it’s not really free unless the play is awful – you are expected to contribute according to the quality of the play.  Good performances should be properly rewarded.  But it’s hard to decide which plays to see unless you know the writer/ actors/ company/ director; a problem for both audiences and companies alike.

For my first play I chose ‘Peaceful’ from the Off-Off-Off-Broadway Company.  It’s a chilling tale, based on a true story, about a woman who builds a huge and complex mansion to protect herself but then hires a medium to make peace with dead spirits before she herself goes off to join them.  The cast of three – Laura Louise Baker (Ethel Charles), Polis Loizou (the building contractor, Coburn) and Jaacq Hugo (the medium, Mr De Villiers) all put in solid performances that work well in the small space of the main upstairs theatre at the King’s Arms.

The script is generally well written and the tension builds steadily throughout the play.  There are some great moments of conflict and reveal; it’s tense rather than scary, and the twists to the plot are effective and believable.  However, I would have gone for a longer ending; it felt too abrupt and there were interesting issues still to explore.  And I wasn’t convinced by the sound and lighting; there were technical issues that delayed the play which may explain some of this.  It is effectively directed, with good movement round the well designed set.

On the whole it is a fascinating, well written, competently performed and engrossing play.  It’s different, but it’s well worth seeing.  It would actually be worth seeing if you paid full price.  Second date is Monday 19th January.


Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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