British film star Ben Barnes will return to the stage to star as Stephen Wraysford in the world premiere stage version of Sebastian FaulksBirdsong, according to today’s Daily Mail. The adaptation of the best-selling 1993 novel, directed by Trevor Nunn, will have a limited season from 29 September 2010 (previews from 18 September) at the West End’s Comedy Theatre.

Barnes was last on stage in February 2007, starring as Dakin (the part originated by Dominic Cooper) in the second West End season of the National Theatre production of Alan Bennett’s The History Boys, but he departed without warning after being offered the title role in the Hollywood film of Prince Caspian, the CS Lewis sequel to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. He’s followed that with more big screen credits in Dorian Gray, Easy Virtue and the forthcoming next in The Chronicles of Narnia series, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

Part of Faulks’ trilogy which also comprises The Girl at the Lion d'Or and Charlotte Gray, Birdsong centres on Stephen Wraysford (Barnes) 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. It’s presented in the West End by CMP Productions and Becky Barber.

Prior to that at the Comedy is the pre-Broadway season, from 26 June to 4 September 2010, of David Hirson’s La Bete, starring Mark Rylance, Joanna Lumley and American David Hyde Pierce.