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Faulks’s Birdsong receives stage premiere

First Published 24 May 2010, Last Updated 27 May 2010

Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks’s best-selling First World War-set novel, is to be brought to the stage at London’s Comedy theatre this autumn.

The new stage adaptation by Rachel Wagstaff, directed by Sir Trevor Nunn, opens on 28 September, following previews from 18 September. Casting is yet to be announced.

Birdsong, which has sold more than two million copies in the UK alone, is the tale of one man’s journey through an all-consuming love affair and into the horror of the First World 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. The affair changes them both forever. A few years later Stephen returns to the same area; this time he is a soldier at the Battle of the Somme, the bloodiest encounter in British military history. As his men die around him, he turns to his enduring love for Isabelle for the strength to continue and to save something for future generations.

This will be Wagstaff’s second Faulks adaptation, having brought The Girl At Lion D’Or to audiences of Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour. Her previous pieces include the Edinburgh Festival hits The Soldier and Only The Brave.

Nunn is one of British theatre’s most respected directors, having previously served at the helm of both the National Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company. Prior to the opening of Birdsong, he will direct a revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Aspects Of Love at the Menier Chocolate Factory this summer.

Birdsong is staged by producers CMP Limited and Becky Barber Productions Ltd. CMP, which was formed in 2006 by Nick Frankfort and Tobias Round, has previously worked on productions including Swimming With Sharks, Three Days Of Rain and The Little Dog Laughed. Barber is the recipient of the inaugural Stage One Start-Up Fund for New Producers, which was awarded last week. An Assistant Producer at Old Vic Productions, Birdsong marks her first West End production as an independent producer.

Birdsong opens at the Comedy theatre following the summer run of comedy La Bête, which stars Mark Rylance, Joanna Lumley and David Hyde Pierce. Prior to La Bête’s opening in late June, the venue continues to host the Theatre Royal Bath production of George Bernard Shaw’s Mrs Warren’s Profession, which stars Felicity Kendal in the title role.



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