War and Peace


Monster Theatre presents the world premiere of War and Peace, a one-man adaptation by 16 year Fringe veteran Ryan Gladstone. Join Ryan as he takes the audience on a journey through the greatest novel ever written, War and Peace, and the 632 characters it contains, as well as the life of Tolstoy himself.

War and Peace is the most written about novel of all time, and yet, its full meaning escapes us… until now! Over the course of re-enacting the story, Ryan tries to pinpoint the true meaning of the book. Bouncing between concepts like Tolstoy’s theories on the nature of history (“A king is history’s slave.”), success (“All success is a mirage.”), self-improvement (“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”), wisdom (“The only thing that we know is that we know nothing.”) and the power of love (“everything that I understand, I understand only because I love.”). In the end we realise that War and Peace’s true beauty lies in its 10 000 simple moments. Pierre sharing a potato. Andrei noticing the sky for the first time. Natasha climbing in bed with her mother to talk about a boy. Princess Marya holding her weeping father like a child.

In the irreverent, hilarious and immaculately researched Monster Theatre style, Gladstone sucks the audience in via the promise of the ridiculous and herculean task of portraying the entirety of the 1444 page tome using nothing more than a single actor, some funny voices and handful of sound effects. Over the course of the play however he slowly unravels the deeper meanings, the profound epiphanies, the relevancies to today and finding all the parallels to the tragic and triumphant echos in Tolstoy’s own life. Monster Theatre’s version of War and Peace straddles the line between comedy and tragedy, farce and sermon, low brow stand-up and history lesson.

“Monster Theatre’s puckish muse Ryan Gladstone arrives onstage alone, he slaps down a hefty paperback on a stool, and declares “we’ve got one hour.” That’s the unmistakeable sound of a gauntlet being thrown down.”

-Edmonton Journal

“If you think reading War and Peace is an epic undertaking, try distilling it into a 60-minute comedy.”4 stars Winnipeg Free Press

“Ryan Gladstone soars as a solo performer. His comfort level with the material and the spotlight allows moments of spontaneity, giving each show a lot of life.”-Laura Glowacki, CBC Manitoba

“Writer/performer Ryan Gladstone is super-skilled.”- Jo Ledingham, Vancouver Courier

Written and Performed by Ryan Gladstone

Directed by Karen Hamm


First Created in 2016

Toured in 2016