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Thursday, 11 November 2010

Birdsong The Play at The Comedy Theatre

The Comedy Theatre introduces Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks' harrowing novel adapted for the stage. This play has a star line-up, that aside from Faulks boasts the director Trevor Nunn, and many wonderful actors.

The story follows a young man’s journey through a great love and a great war. The play is split into three sections, the later parts more convincing than the first. The long opening section concentrates on the young Englishman Stephen Wraysford as he visits Amiens and falls in love with a married woman, played by the rather stiff Genevieve O’Reilly.

After the interval Birdsong shows the vile horror of World War I, like I have never seen it portrayed before. Every aspect of the painful anguish and devastation is realised through haunting acting and clever dramatics. The stage is impressively constructed to show the claustrobic tunnels and trenches, and smoke effects create further atmosphere. Just before the interval a great clash and cloud of smoke or powder wafts over the audience, an incredible sensation and evocative transition to mark the start of the war.

I loved watching Lee Ross who plays one of the central characters, Jack Firebrace. The kindness and bravery of this character within the turmoil of war gives the story real strength and substance, and Ross’s characterisation reflects this with a touching morality. He plays the part directly with no fuss, when he learns of his young son’s death from diphtheria he avoids sentimentality but somehow provokes great sadness in the audience, it is truly touching.

I left feeling moved and educated, and now would like to read the original book.

Book tickets here.

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