Masterfully Moving Monologue
Rupert Mason, of Redheart Theatre, gave a magnificently moving performance of ‘Mr Owen’s Pocketbook’ (a dramatic monologue written and directed by the award winning Justin Butcher).
He took Year 8 on a journey from Shropshire to Flanders, from Merseyside to Edinburgh’s Craiglockhart Mental Hospital, from the horrors of the trenches to the dismay of parents receiving the news of sons’ deaths.
Cleverly intertwining the lives of numerous poets as diverse as Tennyson and Sassoon, he began with the discovery of Wilfred Owen’s pocketbook amongst the dead hero’s personal effects, through which he drew a vivid picture of that poet’s life and work, his mentors and muses but also of all soldiers in WW1.
Through the powerful conviction of Mr Mason’s performance, we empathised with those suffering cruelly from exposure, saw the panic of mustard gas attacks and charged down the “valley of death” with the 600 and considered the question of “glory” found in war. Through the eyes of an officer writing to Owen’s mother, the differing views of the ‘reality’ of war were made starkly clear.
There were tales of wild heroism juxtaposed with bleak dismay, yet, ultimately, of the deep love Owen felt for his comrades and of the voice he had found as a “poets’ poet”, which speaks to following generations. It was a superb conclusion to the pupils’ studies of the Literature of War; this will aid them in their understanding of trench warfare when joining the Year 9 trip to the battlefields of northern France and Belgium.