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Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks, adapted by Rachel Wagstaff

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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.

Rehearsal Photographs: