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Not About Heroes

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Blackeyed Theatre’s resourceful, progressive adaptation of Stephen MacDonald’s 1982 First World War poets drama, about the relationship between Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, offers fresh evidence that Blackeyed is ever-willing to try a different angle.

The first meeting and subsequent relationship between Owen and Sassoon is generally played out with the decorum befitting their military standing, but not this time. The whole interpretation is directed with passionate sensitivity by Eliot Giuralarocca and gives rise to ardent and demonstrative emotion from James Howard as Sassoon and Ben Ashton as Owen. Howard’s Sassoon is vibrant and strong with an underlying fragility while Ashton’s Owen has a quiet strength which pushes through his diffident exterior. The poetry is vividly brought to life with arousing recitations dramatised more intensely through Clive Elkington’s visual projection skills and penetrating music from Tom Neill piano and Sally Riddex cello.

Howard and Ashton give exhaustingly emotive performances. They have a voracious appetite for milking every ounce of sentiment from MacDonald’s beautifully penned script and leave the audience with the unanswerable question as to whether the enigmatic attraction between Sassoon and Owen would have developed deeper had the latter survived the war.

  • Wilde Theatre, South Hill Park Arts Centre, Bracknell
  • September 25-27, then touring until December 6
  • Author: Stephen MacDonald
  • Director: Eliot Giuralarocca
  • Design: Victoria Spearing set, Charlotte McClelland lighting, Jenny Little costume, Clive Elkington projection
  • Technical: Claire Childs company stage manager, Steve Spearing/Lyndon Baines set construction
  • Cast: James Howard, Ben Ashton
  • Producers: Blackeyed Theatre, South Hill Park
  • Running time: 2hrs
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The Stage
The Stage is a British weekly newspaper and website covering the entertainment industry, and particularly theatre. It was founded in 1880. It contains news, reviews, opinion, features, and recruitment advertising.