Hey everyone. Friday was a strange day made even stranger by the fact I was in Edinburgh earlier than usual. This was due to the fact that my girlie catch up with Leanne McKay had to be cancelled due to her having a dental appointment.
This meant I was able to see three shows. One play and two spoken word events. Sophia Blackwell would see me for the third time in Becoming Wonder Woman. The reason for a third visit can be explained by the fact that l lost some of my notes for my review of her show. This meant I had to go to the show again or her review would not be as good as it should be and this could not be allowed.
I also managed to take in the excellent feast of spoken word which is Our Voices and had the great pleasure of seeing excellent sets from the brilliant Sophia Walker and amazingly talented Rachel McCrum as well as two wonderful open mic slots from Stu from York and the hugely gifted bundle of energy that is Agnes Torok. This amazing event was superbly by the lovely Fay Roberts who booked me to appear as open mic slot on Saturday at the end of the show. It is however my first show on arriving at the Banshee which takes up most of this post. This was a brilliant award winning play by the supremely talented Matt Panesh.
This was my second play in two days and in it Matt plays Elliot a 15 year old school boy who after discovering his English homework was to read the war poetry of Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon was to use contemporary language totally gutted.
He then thinks about the difference as he sees it between war and poetry. To his mind war is action packed and full of heroes whereas poetry in contrast is dull and boring.
In his room a boy alone with his thoughts thinks about joining the army as he believes this will help him to gain opportunities he won’t get in his local area. In his world the army presents an image with which he can identify as far as he see the army all is about glamour and glory and girls falling for boys in uniform. In his mind it is all going to be just like the film 300 a tale which tells of tales of heroism courage and bravery. This is Elliot’s image of a life serving his country, and nothing will change it, but then he gets a visit from he gets a visit from two ghosts who may just be able to help him with his homework, the war poets Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon.
As Elliot attempts to explain the concept of the movie and the epic battles between the Greeks and the Persians how it was all about death or glory. Owen who was the first of ghosts to visit him He taught Elliot what many to be his finest work. Dulce et Decorum est. When the boy said he didn’t understand latin Owen was appalled saying that latin was the key to understanding the romance languages of French, Spanish, and Italian and opened up a world of possibilities. Having informed him of the importance he told the boy the true meaning of the latin phrase which titled his greatest work Dulce et Decorum est Pro patria mor it is sweet and right to die for your country.
At first Elliot was completely taken in by the phrase and the supposed noble idea behind it but Owen illustrated the reality of war to him focusing on it’s horrific impact on the living and the brutality of the slaughter which sent too many to there deaths including himself. I died one week before armistice was declared, he told Elliot. The generals had already made the peace but they were determined that it should happen at the 11th hour of the11th day of the 11th month. The pedantic pomposity of authority angered the ghost of the poet. There was no need for Owen to be cut down in his prime as a casualty of war but it happened nonetheless.
At this time Owen was joined by his fellow war poet Siegfried Sassoon who also had wise words for the young would be soldier. Sassoon survived the war but as he told Elliot the dead get their names read out in parliament and a place at the cenotaph but what about the living? Sassoon also told the boy that though he may think there was no gays or bullying in the army there were in fact plenty of examples of both. Sassoon himself was gay as was Owen. On admitting this Sassoon joked that his parents must have known he would be gay when they gave him the middle name Lorraine. As both poets showed that they were in fact well versed in story of the Spartan/Persian battles they assisted Elliot with his homework and leaving him to consider their poetry and the horrors of battle and conclude that studying was the way to get ahead and keep your head as they headed to Canal Street to see the rainbow they were not able to view in their lifetimes.
This was an excellent peace of quality theatre from a man with his finger on the pulse and with so many right wing types wanting to glorify the war to end all wars it is perhaps a salutary reminder that it did not succeed in that aim and that two decades later the world was embroiled in an even more vicious conflict as it went to war once more. It is my opinion that this play needs to be seen by a much wider audience so people finally raise our voices in protest against the horrors committed in the name of the greatest lie ever told. This is the dream so many are sold, the idea that war is a passport to glamour and glory when it is in fact a passport to the graveyard The lie so often used, as a seductive call to arms to defend countries which can never be theirs but will belong forever to the elites and is best summed up in the words of Wilfred Owen. Dulce et Decorum est Pro patria mor. It is sweet and right to die for your country.
Love And Best Wishes