Birdsong to return to Durham

Peter Lathan

Rachel Wagstaff’s stage version of Sebastian Faulks’s novel Birdsong is to return to Durham’s Gala Theatre in May 2018.

“This is the fourth and final tour of Rachel Wagstaff’s adaptation of my novel,” said Faulks, “and, as it coincides with the centenary of the Armistice in 1918, it comes with an additional air of celebration. The play has had a long life since its first incarnation in the West End in 2010 and audiences have always been warm and appreciative. I very much hope that this finale will be a glorious one.”

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.

Tom Kay and Madeleine Knight play Stephen Wraysford and Isabelle Azaire. Kay appeared in a recent production of Journey’s End, performed on a First World War battlefield at Ypres and Knight’s television and film credits include Poldark and Florence Foster Jenkins.

Also in the cast are Olivia Bernstone, Alice Brittain, Alfie Browne-Sykes (Hollyoaks), Martin Carroll, Riley Carter-Millington (EastEnders), James Findlay, Liz Garland, Jeffrey Harmer and Simon Lloyd. Further casting to be announced.

Birdsong is directed by Alastair Whatley with Charlotte Peters, with set design by Victoria Spearing, lighting by Alex Wardle for Charcoalblue and sound by Dom Bilkey.

The production comes to the Gala from 21 to 26 May, as part of a tour which begins at the Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds from 31 January to 3 February. It then visits Crewe Lyceum, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Cheltenham Everyman, New Brighton Floral Pavilion, New Victoria Woking, Wyvern Theatre Swindon, Theatre Royal Windsor, The Lowry Salford, Nuffield Southampton, The Capitol Horsham, Churchill Bromley, King’s Edinburgh, Cambridge Arts and Theatre Royal Glasgow where it ends on 2 June.

It is produced on tour by Anne-Marie Woodley and Jon Woodley for Birdsong Productions Ltd in association with The Original Theatre Company.