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Not About Heroes – Stephen MacdonaldThreedumb Theatre

Mission Theatre Bath (Touring)

This play by Stephen Macdonald is a touching and revealing examination of the relationship between war poets Wilfred Own and Siegfried Sassoon. By using letters and poetry the drama is pieced together during the final years of WW1. Here Macdonald reflects on the impact that Sassoon is thought to have had on the young Owen who sought advice his early poetry and subsequently went on to eclipse his mentor. However, it is also suggested that it is Sassoon’s subtle edits to Owen’s work that might be his greatest contribution to the lasting brilliance of his work.

This two hander is an interesting insight, the linear, chronological style of writing and the slightly repetitive dramatic form is at times hard to keep moving but the performances of these two young actors are strong. Whilst there are moments where the dialogue becomes a little dense it is the poetry that speaks the loudest and remains the most graphic account of the incomprehensible torment of the young men.

Duncan Riches (Sassoon) and Stephen Smith (Owen) create a fine contrast and carry the story well. Directed by Mathew Bromwich this young company from LIPA are clearly committed to good storytelling. This is a thought provoking piece and a fitting play to commemorate the Battle of the Somme 100 years on and the impact of the trench warfare on those who went to the front.
*** – 3 Stars
Petra Schofield