Marking the centenary of the end of the First World War, Rachel Wagstaff’s highly acclaimed adaptation of Sebastian Faulks’s best-selling novel Birdsong is returning to Swindon this March as part of its final UK tour. The production was last in the town in 2014 to mark the centenary of the beginning of the War.
The cast will be headed by Tom Kay and Madeleine Knight as Stephen Wraysford and Isabelle Azaire. Tom Kay, appeared to great acclaim in a recent production of ‘Journey’s End’, performed on a First World War battlefield at Ypres. Madeleine Knight’s television and film credits include Poldark and Florence Foster Jenkins. Also in the cast are Olivia Bernstone, Alice Brittain, Alfie Browne-Sykes (recently seen as Jason Roscoe in Channel 4’s Hollyoaks), Martin Carroll, Riley Carter-Millington (Kyle Slater in EastEnders) James Findlay (winner of the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award 2010), Liz Garland, Jeffrey Harmer and Simon Lloyd.
Birdsong tells a mesmerising story of love and courage, before and during the war. 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.
The critically acclaimed production, seen by over 200,000 people, has received 4 and 5 star reviews, with audiences calling the show ‘simply stunning’.
Sebastian Faulks said, “This is the fourth and final tour of Rachel Wagstaff’s adaptation of my novel 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.’’
Rachel Wagstaff is currently co-writing two screenplays with Sebastian Faulks, one for Eleventh Hour Productions, and one for Trademark Films with Bob & Co. Flowers For Mrs Harris, a new musical written by Rachel and Richard Taylor, staged at the Crucible, Sheffield, received five-star reviews and won the UK Theatre Award for Best Musical Production 2016. In the same year, Only The Brave, for which she wrote the book, opened at the Wales Millennium Centre. Rachel adapted Sebastian Faulks’s novel, The Girl at the Lion d’Or, for Radio Four (Woman’s Hour), and When I Lost You, an Afternoon Play for Radio Four, co-written with Duncan Abel. In development are stage plays with The Original Theatre Company and Wales Millennium Centre, and an original Sherlock Holmes stage play, co-written with Duncan Abel, for Tony Marion Productions.
Sebastian Faulks’s latest novel, Where My Heart Used To Beat, is published by Hutchinson.
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. It is produced on tour by Anne-Marie Woodley and Jon Woodley for Birdsong Productions Ltd in association with The Original Theatre Company.
Birdsong will be on at the Wyvern Theatre from Tuesday 20th – Saturday 24th March. You can book tickets today at www.swindontheatres.co.uk or by calling the Ticket Office on 01793 524 481. Group and School rates are available.