NOT ABOUT HEROES
by Stephen MacDonald.
Trafalgar Studios (Studio 2) 14 Whitehall SW1A 2DY To 6 December 2014.
Mon–Sat 7.45pm. Mat Thu & Sat 3pm.
Runs 2 hr One interval.
TICKETS: 0844 871 7632.
Review: William Russell 11 November.
A night to Remember.
Created from the lives and letters of Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, by Stephen MacDonald, Not About Heroes was first staged at the 1982 Edinburgh Festival, and is the perfect piece to revive on Armistice Day, especially in this centenary year of the outbreak of The Great War.
It is a two-hander for the poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, who met in 1917 while patients at Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh. They had been sent there suffering from shell-shock, although in Sassoon’s case it was also a means of the authorities coping with a rebel who otherwise could have been court-martialled. He had published his ‘Declaration of Wilful Defiance’ in protest at the prolongation of the war, and thrown his Military Cross in the Mersey.
They fell in love. The older Sassoon, infinitely more sophisticated, already a poet of distinction, helped the younger man with his poetry and introduced him to the London literary scene including Oscar Wilde’s friend, Robert Ross.
The play has him years later remembering their time together. By the autumn of 1918 both men, allegedly “cured”, returned to the Front. Sassoon, wounded by friendly fire, survived, Owen, the greatest of the First World War poets, was killed four days before the Armistice.
Simon Jenkins, pudding faced, slight, Brilliantined hair parted down the middle, makes a touching, gauche Owen, unsure of his talent, inspired by his mentor, and determined to go back to battle.
Alasdair Craig is equally impressive, the surface self-assurance he projects concealing a man enraged by the waste of life and just as damaged by the horrors of the trenches as the younger one.
Effectively staged by director Caroline Clegg, the play, which has been on tour and was performed at Craiglockhart, should be seen by all who have flocked to look at that moat full of poppies.
Wilfred Owen: Simon Jenkins.
Siegfried Sassoon: Alasdair Craig.
Director: Caroline Clegg.
Designer: Lara Booth.
Sound: Karen Lauke.
Composer: Ailis Ni Rain.
Costume: Flame Torbay Costume.