Writing Challenge #3:Birdsong Review 

I know i’ve skipped a day in the writing challenge but I felt like writing a review than a fanfiction. I havent written fanfiction for a few years and am a bit rusty. I’ll get around to it eventually. For now, here is day three. A review of theatre show Birdsong.

*On a side note,yesterday was my fourth time seeing the production and it just gets better with every watch. And to the cast(if you’re reading this- Thankyou for putting on such a great show night after night, and for being so lovely every time i’ve met you all at stage door. Hope to see you for the final leg in Richmond next month. Much love x).

 WHAT: Birdsong The Tour

WHERE: Touring Around The Country (www.birdsongthetour.com)

WHEN: Now until July 4th 2015

It is very rare that book adaptions work for theatre or film. But The Original Theatre Company’s production of Birdsong, based on the best selling book of the same name by Sebastian Faulks, which follows the life of Stephen Wraysford, a soldier who leads his men through the battle of the Somme in World War One in 1912 France whilst battling with his past and former life in Amiens with Isabelle, whom he had an affair in 1910 is the exception.

Having toured for the past three years to packed theatres around the country it seems more poignant now, than when it first toured, due to last year marking 100 years since the outbreak of World War 1.

On entering the darkness of the theatre, the audience are automatically transported back to the trenches of World War 1. Add to this the coldness upon walking into the theatre and the stage lit by one single torch, there is a sort of eerie feel, which adds to the play that is about to play out.

The set is simple, but effective. Two single tables sit at each end of the stage, with three boxes stacked on top of each other in the middle. Behind the stage are three crosses, which commemorate those soldiers lost. As the actors ascend onto the darkened stage, and the lights change, more of the set is revealed. A balcony to the right of stage, along with a revolving door, which throughout the play acts as the scene change between Stephen’s time in 1910 before the war with Isabelle and his time during the war in the trenches.

Although the main center point of the play focuses around Stephen(Edmund Wiseman) trying to understand why he was given a second chance at life, a main part of the play is dedicated to the sappers who dug the trenches. Most prominently Jack Firebrace, played brilliantly by ex Blue Peter presenter, Peter Duncan, who sets the tone of the play from the start indulging his fellow sappers in a sing song of the war classic ‘Hold You Hand Out Naughty Boy’ much to the surprise of new sapper, Tipper, portrayed exceptionally well by Waterloo Road’s, Max Bowden.

Then, with the sound of an air aid, the play begins!

The flashbacks from the trenches to Amiens in 1910, although fast paced are portrayed with such elegance and skill through the change of music, played beautifully by James Findlay on the violin. But possibly most efficiently with one fluid motion from Edmund Wiseman as Stephen.

Sound also plays a prominent part within the production, not only with the use of music, but also with the sound of bombs throughout. Most notably in a scene before the interval when the soldiers go over the top of the trenches to face the Germans. This scene alone is enough to leave some audience members speechless allowing a silence to fall upon the auditorium as the stage fades to black.

The sound of birds is also another sound heard a lot throughout the production, the most memorable being in the second half, and a scene between Stephen, and Isabelle’s sister, Jeanne in which she persuades Stephen to keep on fighting even though he doesn’t know what he’s fighting for.

Each character is as important as the next within this production, and the company blend together with such ease to portray their characters so well. Although all the actors stand out in their own right, it is those of Edmund Wiseman as Stephen, Peter Duncan as Jack Firebrace and Emily Bowker’s performance as Isabelle that truly steal the show.

As the final line of the play is delivered ‘we will seal what we have seen in the silence of our hearts and no words will reach us’ and the sound of the birds, it is then that the prominence of the play sinks in. This beautiful production directed effortlessly by none other than Alastair Whately, is a play, which will stay with you for quite a while afterwards.



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