Tuesday, 18 November 2014
Theatre review: Not About Heroes
Having long admired Sassoon, the stuttering Owen is initially nervous to meet him, but is soon showing him his own poetry. Although his new mentor is quick to find fault in the younger man's work at first, he gradually starts to believe Owen has surpassed him in talent, and introduces him to a number of useful contacts who can get his poems published. They were, but Owen didn't live to see it.
MacDonald's play does a pretty good job of weaving together poems and letters to form a narrative of the two men's relationship. My O'Level English exam included a few Wilfred Owen poems so some of the more famous ones that get recited here were familiar; but having probably been too young to really appreciate them at the time, as well as seeing them in context now, made them seem more effective. The play draws out its simple story a bit too long though, and while it hints at a homoerotic edge to the relationship it frustratingly shies away from really exploring it. This may be part of the reason the short-lived friendship never really has an emotional impact in Caroline Clegg's functional production. There's been better WWI plays this year, but it's interesting that it's taken this long to have a look at this most famous artistic response to it.
Not About Heroes by Stephen MacDonald is booking until the 6th of December at Trafalgar Studio 2.
Running time: 1 hour 55 minutes including interval.