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BWW Review: NOT ABOUT HEROES: Drama at its Best in Kansas City

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The two-person play Not About Heroes opened Friday November 14 at the Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre in Kansas City, Mo. Bob Paisley, a founding member of the theater, directs the thought provoking dramatic World War I piece. Audiences that view the two-act drama as poetry in motion will insure themselves of a very entertaining evening.

Not About Heroes, written by Stephen MacDonald, opened at the Edinburg Festival in 1982, making its way New York in 1985. The play, set in the late years of World War I, centered on the journey of two poets, Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, their self-discovery and the role each plays in the progress of the other. It is the dramatic tale of the friendship that began in 1917 at the Craiglockhart War Hospital for Nervous Disorders.

Sassoon, talks of his young protégé, as narrator going back to the day they first met at the hospital. The government sent Sassoon for rehabilitation for his anti-war declarations, a better choice for the government than court martialing the winner of the Military Cross. Owen admitted to the hospital for stuttering and shaking brought on by his involvement in the war effort.

Told in flashbacks the story of their friendship that begins one year before Owen is killed in action. Sassoon, an accomplished and respected poet, sees the potential in Owen as he reads his early efforts at poetry. The two become close, Owen the apprentice and Sassoon the teacher. MacDonald's marvelous use of their poetry propels their relationship to one of mutual admiration. The title of the play comes from a book written by Owen of the same title. In an excerpt from the preface he says, "Above all I am not concerned with poetry. My subject is war, and the pity of war. The poetry is the pity."

Robert Gibby Brand is brilliant and powerful as the weathered Sassoon who so eloquently speaks through their poetry. Brand is without doubt one of the finest dramatic actors in the area. I felt that in his last performance in Ghost Writer for Spinning Tree Theatre he had set the bar high for any dramatic actor to follow in Kansas City. In Not About Heroes, he leaps over that bar landing on the top wrung.

Seth Macchi is outstanding as Wilfred Owen. The role of Owen calls for a highly intense performance, which Macchi is up to. His performance is dynamic as the young soldier who eagerly looks forward to returning to the battlefield, to feel the discomforts and anguish of the soldiers.

Not About Heroes continues at the Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre through December 7. Contact the box office at 816-569-3226 or purchase tickets online at the Met website. Photo courtesy of Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre.


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