War friendship changed face of poetry

James Howard, who plays Siegfried Sassoon, and Ben Ashton, who plays Wilfred Owen, in Not About Heroes at The Devonshire Park Theatre in eastbourne from November 25-27.

James Howard, who plays Siegfried Sassoon, and Ben Ashton, who plays Wilfred Owen, in Not About Heroes at The Devonshire Park Theatre in eastbourne from November 25-27.

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The extraordinary bond between the two ‘Great War’ poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen is the focus of the poignant play Not About Heroes.

Set against the backdrop of the First World War, this production of Stephen MacDonald’s play chronicles the unique and deepening friendship that developed between them.

It goes from their first meeting in 1917 at the Craiglockhart War hospital where both were being treated for ‘war neurosis’, to their final meeting in August 1918 shortly before Owen’s return to active duty.

Seen through the eyes of the older Sassoon - remembering events from 14 years previously - the play interweaves extracts from their real diaries, letters and poems.

It also suggests their intense friendship was key to unlocking Owen’s genius as a poet and liberating him as a man.

One hundred years on from the beginning of the First World War, Not About Heroes is both exhilarating and uncompromising in its exploration of love, war and a friendship that changed the face of British poetry.

Ben Ashton plays the role of Wilfred Owen and James Howard portrays Siegfried Sassoon.

Catch Not About Heroes is at the Devonshire Park Theatre from Tuesday, November 25, to Thursday, November 27 - evenings 7.45pm, plus 2.30pm Wednesday matinee. Tickets from £15.50, call 01323 412000 or www.eastbournetheatres.co.uk