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Birdsong rings out in Oldham, 1 July

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Following 2010's West End premiere, a new production of Rachel Wagstaff's adaptation of Sebastian Faulks' bestselling novel Birdsong is headed for Oldham in July, following a successful run in Blackpool recently. 

Directed by Alastair Whatley, Birdsong started the tour at The Haymarket Theatre, Basingstoke.

The cast is led by Jonathan Smith (as Stephen Wraysford) and Sarah Jayne Dunn - (as Isabelle Azaire), best known for her long-running portrayal of Mandy Richardson in Hollyoaks.

They'll be joined by: Arthur Bostrom, Charlie G Hawkins, Joshua Higgott, Polly Hughes, Malcolm James, Liam McCormick, Poppy Roe, Jonathan Smith, Emily Stride, Tim Treloar and Tim Van Eyken.

The production arrives in the wake of the recent announcement of a national commemoration ceremony of the centenary of the start of World War I, to be held on Remembrance Day, 2014. Sebastian Faulks, whose other novels include Charlotte Gray and The Girl at the Lion D'or, will be on the advisory board for the event.

Rachel Wagstaff commented: “Birdsong is in an incredibly powerful novel, and through the story of Faulks' fictional characters, we can understand what it might have been like for individuals caught up in this most extraordinary period of world history.

"Given the approaching centenary and the passing away of Harry Patch, the last surviving British Army Veteran to have fought in the Great War, it seems more important than ever that the courage and sacrifices of those who fought and fell for future generations are not only remembered, but understood.”

Birdsong opens in pre-war France, where young Englishman Stephen Wraysford embarks on a passionate and dangerous affair with his host's wife, Isabelle Azaire. As civil unrest mounts and war breaks in on the idyll of his former life, Stephen finds he must now lead his men through the carnage of the Battle of the Somme and the sprawling tunnels that lie deep underground.

Wagstaff’s adaptation was first seen at the Comedy Theatre (now the Harold Pinter) in 2010, directed by Trevor Nunn. More recently Birdsong was adapted for TV by Abi Morgan for a BBC1 series starring Eddie Redmayne and Clémence Poésy.

The tour, which is produced by Original Theatre Company & Birdsong Productions Ltd, visits the Oldham Coliseum from 1 - 5 July.


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