In 2014, the year that will mark 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War, Rachel Wagstaff’s stage adaptation of Birdsong, from the novel by Sebastian Faulks, plays at the Grand Opera House from Monday 23rd until Saturday 28th June.
In pre-war France, a young Englishman Stephen Wraysford embarks on a passionate and dangerous affair with the beautiful Isabelle Azaire that turns their worlds upside down. As the war breaks out, Stephen must lead his men through the carnage of the Battle of the Somme and through the sprawling tunnels that lie deep underground. Faced with the unprecedented horror of the war, Stephen clings to the memory of Isabelle and the idyll of his former life as his world explodes around him.
Our reviewer Anne Hailes previewed Birdsong for us recently. Read what she said about this production here.
Starring Olivier nominated actor and former Blue Peter presenter Peter Duncan and Hollyoaks’ Jonny Clarke, Birdsong is regularly voted as one of the nation’s all-time favourite books, selling more than two million copies in the United Kingdom and more than three million worldwide.
The 2013 tour received 4- and 5-star reviews and audiences called the show ‘simply stunning’. Sebastian Faulks is thrilled the show is re-mounting for 2014 stating:
“Both Rachel and I want this to be the definitive version of Birdsong on stage. The audience watch it and think, thank God I have never undergone all of this. These experiences are far outside the lives of most people but there is something about the way the production works which makes people identify and think, it could be me…” Sebastian joined the 2013 company on stage in a cameo role during its 200th Performance in Brighton.
Rachel Wagstaff previously adapted Sebastian Faulks’s The Girl at the Lion d’Or for BBC Radio 4 and she and Faulks are currently writing two screenplays together. She is a participant of Old Vic New Voices and her work has been performed at the annual 24 Hour Plays.
She said, “When I first approached Sebastian, there were only five British veterans from the First World War still alive. With the death of Harry Patch in 2009, we were left without a single living connection to those who fought, for us. It seems more important than ever that we continue to tell the stories of those who gave their lives. Birdsong, while first and foremost a simply brilliant work of fiction, gives extraordinary insight into what it must have been like to witness such suffering on an unprecedented scale. I’m delighted that in the year which marks one hundred years since war was declared, The Original Theatre Company and Birdsong Productions are launching a second regional tour of their beautiful and powerful production.”
Birdsong runs at the Grand Opera House from Monday 23rd until Saturday 28th June. Tickets start at £19.50 and can be purchased online at www.goh.co.uk, in person at the Box Office located in the theatre foyer or via telephone on 9024 1919.
Birdsong will be directed by Alastair Whatley, with set design by Victoria Spearing, lighting by Alex Wardle for Charcoalblue and sound by Dom Bilkey.