Not About Heroes is an educational and emotive play that explores the multifaceted relationship between the poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen. Beautiful, gentle, funny, brutal and real. I was left full of feelings after this sparse, ethereal play – sorrow, disillusionment, anger, hopelessness. Brought on by the ugly truth of war, crafted in word by Sassoon and Owen. I feel educated on the propaganda fuelled ‘truth’ of the First World War and the poetic truth of the soldiers who fought for change. MacDonald’s play is full of heart and lyrical prowess worthy of the great poets he portrays.
Ali Watt and Thomas Cotran both bring palpable reality to the shell shock and PTSD symptoms suffered by Sassoon and Owen as well as encapsulating the awkward proper Englishness of many men of this time. I would not class myself as a lover of war poetry but I left the theatre ready to immerse myself in The Old Huntsman (Sassoon 1917) after hearing powerful examples of his work through out the performance. The character of Sassoon is endearing and frustrating in equal measure but I could not help but feel that his wisdom was far beyond his time. Owen is portrayed as sweet and impressionable and yet his fate was sealed by his belief that he would not write well enough until he had truly experienced war. A belief that led to his death a week prior to the Armistice. A haunting, stark reality exquisitely played by a small and wonderful cast.
The third character played by Ewan Petrie was silent, all seeing and perfectly played. I was transported on this evening and would recommend the journey; it was beautifully sad to watch the wars we fight.
Reviewer : Ali Bell