21-25 April 2015
Reviewed by Gemma Gough
I will confess to having never read Sebastian Faulks’ critically acclaimed novel Birdsong, but after seeing this adaptation by Rachel Wagstaff I will definitely be borrowing it next time I’m at the library.
This is a dramatic and powerful production, depicting the harsh reality of the First World War. From the opening scene, I was utterly gripped and absorbed in the story – a doomed love affair between young Englishman Stephen Wraysford and a beautiful married French woman and how Stephen struggles to cope in the aftermath of their affair when he heads to battle.
There is an outstanding cast who together manage to portray the full horror of war. Peter Duncan is wonderful as Jack and the scene where he learns that his 8 year old son had died is absolutely heartbreaking. Edmund Wiseman is also terrific as Stephen Wraysford – we see his mental state becoming more and more fragile throughout and my stand out moment was when he embraced the German soldier in the tunnel at the end, a real moment of thought provoking humanity and a definite tear jerker.
The set is cleverly designed and captures the mood just perfectly along with the sound effects and lighting. In addition to this there is a lone violinist and vocalist which just add that extra bit of poignancy.
The entire audience were entranced from start to finish and I would urge you to go and see this play if you can. It’s not necessarily easy to watch but it does give a greater understanding of the severity and pain of the First World War and I think one hundred years on, it is ultimately a fitting tribute to those who lost their lives.
Tickets cost from £14 to £29.50 (booking fees may apply).
Birdsong is at the King’s Theatre in Edinburgh until 25 April 2015. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0131 529 6000.
King’s Theatre, 2 Leven Street, Edinburgh, EH3 9LQ | 0131 529 6000