Peaceful is a dark three-hander surrounding an séance at the house of Miss Ethel Charles in early 20th century England. Fearing she is close to death, Miss Charles calls the spirit medium Mr De Villiers to help her make peace with the ghosts of her loved ones before she joins them herself. Joining them is Mr Coburn, who ends up with much more than he bargained for when contacting the dead.
The play was, in a word, chilling. Even before the lights went down, I was a little scared by the presence and appearance of the cast onstage: still, eyes closed, and very pale. Performance-wise, they were all very successful in conveying the creepy atmosphere necessary for the play to frighten the audience; I was practically expecting a ghost to appear in the séance scene thanks to the intensity of the mood. In particular, the actor who played Mr De Villiers must be mentioned, as his sinister elegance was very unsettling. The décor of the auditorium (white canvas sheets draped over the seats) and the stage had a very The Others feel to it and placed us instantly in the play’s setting. I must also add that the air conditioning was a star player in the piece, making us literally chilled and providing an additional scary soundtrack. The company should definitely leave it on, whatever the weather!
The play was a masterclass in how to scare an audience. The script was also excellent, and I was incredibly surprised to discover that it was a piece of new writing. Having said that, the ideas in the play aren’t particularly relevant to contemporary audience in any way other than providing a good scare. If that’s what you’re after, however, go see it!