LET'S hope Pick Me Up Theatre's York premiere of Private Peaceful has a life beyond this weekend. How wonderful if George Stagnell's remarkable performance in this one-man show could now be seen at schools. And yes, if schools "can't afford" to go to the theatre any more, then take (educational) theatre to the schools.

Stagnell has somehow never been given a place at Britain's drama schools, which says more about them than it does of one of York's best young talents in your reviewer's three decades of talent spotting. He is 21, piling up good notices for Pick Me Up and others, and frankly he might be better served now by finding an agent and pressing on regardless.

In his armoury Stagnell will have the show reel from Private Peaceful, where his acting skills have gone up another notch in his first solo show, guided by the directorial skills of Mark Hird, himself a mighty fine actor with an ear for the power of language and an eye for minutiae in performance (matched by his finding a watch from the First World War era for Stagnell to wear).

In Simon Reade's adaptation of Michael Morpurgo's novel, Stagnell is playing Private Tommo Peaceful, not yet 18, and all the people he remembers in his life, from older brother Charlie to school staff and army officers, as he sits alone in a barn near Ypres awaiting his fate at dawn. A fate that echoes down the ages shaming mankind's cruelty in the theatre of war.

Aided by Adam Moore's wooden stage design with charcoal graphics, Ian Thomson's soundscape and Sam Johnson's piano arrangements of George Butterworth's A Shropshire Lad, Stagnell evokes Devon country life and the terrors of the trenches alike, with a young joy for life broken brutally on a foreign field under fire.

Private Peaceful, Pick Me Up Theatre, John Cooper Studio Theatre, 41 Monkgate, York, 7.30pm tonight and tomorrow; 2.30pm and 7.30pm, Saturday. Box office: 01904 623568 or at pickmeuptheatre.com