Anthem for a Doomed Youth
Poetry from the First World War performed by Guy Masterson
This article is from 2014.
It is the very anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War and Guy Masterson has a cold. He takes to the stage, apologising for his pink socks and creaking voice, and explains that the aim of his one-man show is to bring us the poetry of the trenches. Not the context, the run-up or the aftermath, just first-hand experiences from the front line.
And he does. For an hour, we are immersed down shell holes, in the soup, sludge and rank broth of mud and blood. There are many severed limbs, as well as mincemeat spiked with splinters of bone. An early piece sets the scene when the writer coughs up clods of burnt lung.
Masterson is too smart to play it all black and there are changes of pace: a funny piece he compiled about Christmas, little-known poems by German and French writers as well as the greatest hits of the British war canon. They are much needed. Hearing these most moving of verses performed by a master is almost too painful to sustain.
Assembly Roxy, 0131 623 3030, until 24 Aug (not 11,18), £13 (£11).