“Even if we blow each other to pieces, the birds keep on singing.”
With the centenary of the end of the ‘Great War’ just around the corner, I took a trip to the Progress Theatre to watch a theatrical adaptation of Faulks’ ‘Birdsong’, adapted by Rachel Wagstaff.
In the intimate yet well-equipped theatre, I watched the play alongside a silhouette of the unknown soldier in the front row. With both the silhouette and a lack of applause at the interval at the crucial moment the men go ‘over the top’, the play entirely encapsulates the spirit of remembering the war.
Although the writing of the character ‘Stephen’ was a bit hit-and-miss with regard him being a bit of a wet-wipe: he begs and begs another man’s wife to run away with him, the other characters all appeared to be believable and well-rounded. I can’t confirm whether it was Faulks or Wagstaff who made him so soppy, but it really wasn’t pleasant watching him plead with a married woman with commitments (but hey, that makes a great love story, doesn’t it?).
In some cases, however, the characters and the way they were portrayed were too real. Jack’s experiences with his letters to and from his wife back home in England were truly devastating and highlighted another dimension to the tragedy of the war that isn’t often talked about.
With several flashes of comedy integrated between the general expected bleakness of the play, I found myself tallying the amount of times the women ran hysterically from the stage – a whopping 8 times! But I guess women in early twentieth century period dramas have to be a bit dramatic. I even started tallying a bit late- so there could have been more occasions that I missed!
Despite the play getting off to a slow start, I ended up so engaged with the plot that the events before the interval left me quite literally open-mouthed. Overall, I would definitely recommend the play.
It is running until 17th November, with a special commemorative performance on the 11th November. Even if you can’t make it to see ‘Birdsong’ before it ends, I suggest you head over to the Progress Theatre to view one of their other upcoming plays – It’s just a short walk from the sports park!