Sebastian Faulks’ best-selling 1993 novel Birdsong, set during the First World War, will cross over to the stage this autumn with a world premiere adaptation, directed by Trevor Nunn, which will have a limited season from 29 September 2010 (previews from 18 September) to 15 January 2011 at the West End’s Comedy Theatre.

This will be the first stage production of one of Faulks’ novels and, as reported last week, it also marks the West End debut of up-and-coming producer Becky Barber, who is the first recipient of a £25,000 cheque from Stage One’s Start Up Fund for New Producers. Barber is co-producing with CMP Productions.

Part of Faulks’ trilogy which also comprises The Girl at the Lion d'Or and Charlotte Gray, Birdsong centres on Stephen Wraysford who, while staying as the guest of a factory owner in pre-war France, embarks on a passionate affair with Isabelle, the wife of his host. The affair changes them both 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.

Birdsong has been adapted for the stage by Rachel Wagstaff, who has previously adapted Faulks’ The Girl at the Lion d'Or for BBC Radio 4. Wagstaff’s other stage credits include Only the Brave and The Soldier.

Trevor Nunn, who counts four Whatsonstage.com Awards amongst his myriad career accolades, is a former artistic director of both the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company. His most recent credits include Inherit the Wind at the Old Vic and, for the Menier Chocolate Factory, the musicals A Little Night Music (which transferred to the West End and Broadway) and the forthcoming revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Aspects of Love.

Currently at the Comedy, the Felicity Kendal-led revival of Mrs Warren’s Profession finishes on 15 June 2010 and is followed by a pre-Broadway season of David Hirson’s La Bete from 26 June to 4 September 2010. The latter stars Mark Rylance, Joanna Lumley and American David Hyde Pierce (from TV’s Frasier) and is directed by Matthew Warchus.

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