Birdsong, Starring Ben Barnes, Begins Performances at West End's Comedy Theatre Sept. 18

News   Birdsong, Starring Ben Barnes, Begins Performances at West End's Comedy Theatre Sept. 18 A new stage adaptation of Sebastian Faulks' novel Birdsong, directed by Trevor Nunn and starring Ben Barnes, begins performances Sept. 18 at the Comedy Theatre prior to an official opening Sept. 28.

Trevor Nunn
Trevor Nunn Photo by Aubrey Reuben

Barnes is joined by a cast that also features Nicholas Farrell, Iain Mitchell, Genevieve O'Reilly, Lee Ross and Zoe Waites, and includes Owain Arthur, Billy Carter, Florence Hall, Paul Hawkyard, Gregg Lowe, Joe Coen, Jack Hawkins, James Staddon and Annabel Topham.

The production is designed by John Napier, with costumes by Emma Williams, projection by Jon Driscoll and Gemma Carrington, music by Steven Edis and sound by Fergus O'Hare. The book is adapted for the stage by Rachel Wagstaff, whose previous work has included The Soldier and Only The Brave. She has also previously adapted Faulks’ "The Girl at Lion d’Or" for BBC Radio 4. Birdsong is produced by CMP Ltd. (Nick Frankfort and Tobias Round), Becky Barber and Act Productions.

Faulks' 1993 novel, which has sold more than two million copies in the U.K. and more than three million worldwide, tells the story of one man’s journey through an all-consuming love affair and into the horror of the First World War. While staying as the guest of a factory owner in pre-First World War France, Stephen Wraysford (Barnes) embarks on a passionate affair with Isabelle (O'Reilly), 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.

Barnes, who is best known for playing Prince Caspian in the “Chronicles of Narnia” film of the same name as well as “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” was last seen on the London stage in The History Boys at Wyndham’s Theatre, a run he had to curtail when he was offered the first “Narnia” film. His other stage credits include Sex, Chips and Rock ‘n’ Roll at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre, and Loving Ophelia at London’s Pleasance Theatre. In addition to his "Narnia" films, he has appeared in the title role of Oliver Parker’s film “Dorian Gray” and has had roles in “Stardust” and “Easy Virtue.” He also has roles in “Locked in” and “Killing Bono,” both of which are to be released next year.

Farrell, who plays René Azaire, made his film debut as Aubrey Montague in "Chariots of Fire." Stage credits include playing Tony Blair in David Hare’s Stuff Happens (National Theatre) as well as several other roles for the RSC (including the role of Horatio in Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet, and later in the film version). Other film credits include "Amazing Grace," "Bloody Sunday," "Charlotte Gray" and "Pearl Harbour." Mitchell, who plays Bérard, was most recently seen onstage in the Menier Chocolate Factory's production of La Cage aux Folles and its subsequent West End transfer. At the National, he has appeared in Stuff Happens, His Dark Materials, Edmond, Mother Clapp's Molly House, The Invention of Love and The Madness of George III.

O'Reilly, who plays Isabelle, is perhaps best known for her role as regular character Sarah Caulfield in the BBC television series "Spooks," as well as film credits including "Star Wars Episode III – Revenge of The Sith," "The Matrix Revolutions" and "The Matrix Reloaded." Her stage credits include The Weir (Gate Theatre, Dublin) and Richard II (Old Vic).

Ross, who plays Jack Firebrace, played Owen Turner in the TV series "Eastenders" for two stretches in 2006 and 2009. He was a regular on "The Catherine Tate Show," as well as the television series "Ashes to Ashes" and "Life on Mars." Stage credits include The Neighbour (National Theatre) and Whipping it Up (West End).

Waites, who plays Jeanne, recently appeared onstage in Mrs. Klein (Almeida), Hedda Gabler (Theatre Royal Bath and tour) and the 2008 revival of Nicholas Nickleby (Chichester Festival Theatre, UK tour and West End). She has also played several roles for the RSC, and has twice been shortlisted for the Ian Charleson Award, given for an Outstanding Performance by a young actor.

To book tickets, contact the box office on 0844 871 2118, or visit www.birdsongtheplay.co.uk for more details.

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