British film star Ben Barnes will appear in the forthcoming stage adaptation of Sebastian Faulk’s best-selling novel Birdsong.
Set to open on 28 September, after previews from 18 September, the First World War novel has been adapted for the stage by Rachel Wagstaff. The harrowing book, which has sold more than two million copies in the UK alone, tells the story of one man’s journey through an all-consuming love affair and the brutality of the Great War.
While staying as the guest of a factory owner in pre-First World War France, Stephen Wraysford embarks on a passionate affair with Isabelle, the wife of his host, changing both their lives forever. A few years later Stephen finds himself back in the same part of France, but this time as a soldier at the Battle of the Somme, the bloodiest encounter in British military history. As his men die around him, Stephen turns to his enduring love for Isabelle for the strength to continue and to save something for future generations.
Barnes will take on the lead role of soldier Stephen. Most popularly known for playing Prince Caspian in the Chronicles Of Narnia films – Prince Caspian and the soon to be released The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader – Barnes has previously appeared on the London stage in The History Boys, both at the National Theatre and in the West End, and in Loving Ophelia at the Pleasance theatre. His other film credits include Stardust, Bigga Than Ben and the title role in the 2009 adaptation of Dorian Gray.
Further casting has yet to be announced for the production which will be directed by West End theatre veteran Trevor Nunn.
Birdsong opens at the Comedy theatre following the summer run of comedy La Bête, which stars Mark Rylance, Joanna Lumley and David Hyde Pierce and opens on 7 July.