Neil McPherson’s play It Is Easy To Be Dead commemorating the centenary of the Battle Of The Somme, will have its World premiere at the Finborough Theatre from 15 June – 9 July 2016.
It Is Easy To Be Dead is based on the poetry, letters and brief life of Charles Hamilton Sorley. Born in Aberdeen, Charles Sorley was studying in Germany when the First World War broke out and was briefly imprisoned as an enemy alien. He was one of the first to join the army in 1914.
Killed in action a year later at the age of 20, his poems are among the most ambivalent , profound and moving war poetry ever written.
It Is Easy To Be Dead tells the story of Sorley’s brief life through his work, with music and songs from some of the greatest composers of the period including George Butterworth, Dòmhnall Ruadh Chorùna, Ivor Gurney, John Ireland, Rudi Stephan and Ralph Vaughan Williams.
Sorley is unique among the poets of the First World War. His life and work fits chronologically into the patriotic idealism of the beginning of the war, exemplified by poets such as Julian Grenfell and Rupert Brooke (whom Sorley criticised for his “sentimental attitude”). Perhaps because of his time in Germany before the war, Sorley perceived the truth of war long before his fellow writers, anticipating the grim disillusionment of later poets such as Wilfred Owen, Isaac Rosenberg and Siegfried Sassoon.
The cast includes Jenny Lee (West End, Royal Court Theatre, The Young Vic, Royal Shakespeare Company, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh), Tom Marshall (National Theatre, West End, Royal Court Theatre, Menier Chocolate Factory) and two new discoveries – actor Alexander Knox as Charles Sorley, and acclaimed young tenor Hugh Benson.
It Is Easy To Be Dead has music and songs by George Butterworth, is designed by Phil Lindley, video and lighting design by Rob Mills, sound design by Jamie Woods and musical direction by Elizabeth Rossiter. The play is directed by Max Key.