Birdsong

By Sebastian Faulks, adapted by Rachel Wagstaff

Synopsis:

Birdsong is a powerful dramatisation of Sebastian Faulks’s profoundly moving novel.

The play charts the tempestuous affair between a British Officer, Stephen Wraysford, and a French woman, Isabelle Azaire. Meeting in 1910, the young Stephen falls hopelessly in love with Rene Azaire’s wife whilst staying at their home in Amiens, Northern France. Fleeing Azaire’s wrath, the lovers run away together, but in personal turmoil and with the looming threat of war enveloping Europe, Stephen and Isabelle’s fledgling love founders, but neither forgets the other.

Six years after their meeting, Stephen is back in the same region of France, this time as a young, English Lieutenant, leading his men at the Battle of the Somme in July 1916. The bravery and camaraderie of life in the trenches is epitomised by Jack Firebrace and his fellow soldiers whose traumatic experiences capture the pointless sacrifice made by so many brave young men during World War One.

Playwright Rachel Wagstaff uses flash-backs in her haunting adaptation of Birdsong to juxtapose the beauty and passion of Stephen’s pre-war experiences with the horrors of war-torn battlegrounds. As Armistice Day 1918 approaches, the threads of the lovers’ lives have once more intertwined in a heart-rending finale.

Showcasing a large cast of talented actors drawn from Next Stage’s adult and Youth Companies, a simple but evocative set and authentic costumes, Birdsong is opening at The Mission Theatre before it tours to the Minack Theatre on the cliffs at Porthcurno in July.

Performed a hundred years on from one of the world’s bloodiest conflicts, this production will stay in audiences’ minds for a long time. Crafted from the ruins of war and the indestructibility of love, Birdsong is a play that speaks to all.

Birdsong
This show was performed at The Mission Theatre, Bath in June 2017.

Director/s | Cast:

Ann Ellison

Ann Ellison

Director

Ben Armstrong

Ben Armstrong

Private Arthur Shaw

Stephanie Barton

Stephanie Barton

Nurse Mary

Lydia Cook

Lydia Cook

Jeanne Fourmentier

Bob Constantine

Bob Constantine

Rene Azaire

Chris Constantine

Chris Constantine

Lieutenant Stephen Wraysford

Brian Hudd

Brian Hudd

Captain Gray

Hayley Fitton-Cook

Hayley Fitton-Cook

Isabelle Azaire

Lydia Gibbons

Lydia Gibbons

Lisette Azaire

Liza Greenhalgh

Liza Greenhalgh

Marguerite

will Greensides

will Greensides

Private Tipper

Olivia Anniss

Olivia Anniss

Nurse

Philip Davies

Philip Davies

Private Evans

Ren Leming

Ren Leming

Berard

Hamish Row

Hamish Row

Gregoire Azaire

Richard Matthews

Richard Matthews

Jack Firebrace

James Head

James Head

Private Turner

Review/s of Birdsong:

Review 1: A thought provoking play

Birdsong is a popular and successful novel. A love story mingled with the brutality and reality of the trenches and the Battle of the Somme. The play focuses the action in the British trenches and behind the lines in France from 1916 – 1918 with earlier romantic events shown in flashback. This is a hugely difficult play to stage, given its episodic nature and filmic quality. The constant flashbacks…click here to read the whole review.

By Petra Schofield

Review 2: There are outstanding individual portraits from all the cast in this complex but compelling tale which commands attention from beginning to the end. Amazing.

To say that staging Birdsong at The Mission Theatre is ambitious would be an understatement. Luckily for us, the audience, it is managed wonderfully well. Set in France before between 1910 and 1918 the action follows Englishman Stephen Wraysford having an affair with the wife of his employer at Amiens before the war, subsequently returning there as an officer at the Somme, where acquaintances resume.…click here to read the whole review.

By Philip Horton, Bath Chronicle

Show and rehearsal photographs: