Sebastian Faulks' Birdsong comes to Cheltenham in WW1 centenary year

Gazette Series: (3963540) (3963540)

MARKING the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War, Birdsong is the critically acclaimed stage play of the world famous novel, adapted by Rachel Wagstaff.

In pre-war France, a young Englishman Stephen Wraysford embarks on a passionate and dangerous affair with the beautiful Isabelle Azaire that turns their world upside down. As the war breaks out over the idyll of his former life, 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, as his world explodes around him.

Peter Duncan, George Banks and Carolin Stoltz head the cast. Peter Duncan, probably best known as a Blue Peter presenter, began his acting career in the 70s at the National Theatre and recent credits include Macduff in Macbeth and Fantastic Mr Fox, both at the Open Air Theatre in Regent’s Park. Peter plays Jack Firebrace. George Banks (Stephen Wraysford) was in the national tour of Alan Bennett’s acclaimed The History Boys and Carolin Stoltz (Isabelle Azaire) has appeared in Sky 1’s The Cafe, Emmerdale and The Inbetweeners Movie.

Following on from last year’s successful and critically acclaimed national tour, seen by over 75,000 people, this new version is eagerly awaited. Sebastian Faulks is thrilled the show is being re-mounted for 2014 and said:

“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...”

Rachel Wagstaff added: “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, a second regional tour of this beautiful and powerful production is being launched.”

The tour of Birdsong is on at The Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham, supporting Help for Heroes. Performances from Monday 17 to Saturday 22 February . For more details please visit www.everymantheatre.org.uk

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