Birdsong at The Mission Theatre, Bath

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Posted on 29th June 2017

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

A Next Stage production directed by Ann Ellison

Mission Theatre, Bath

June 27 - July 1, 7.30pm; matinee Saturday 1st July

To say that staging Birdsong at The Mission Theatre is ambitious would be an understatement. Luckily for us, the audience, it is managed wonderfully well.

Set in France before between 1910 and 1918 the action follows Englishman Stephen Wraysford having an affair with the wife of his employer at Amiens before the war, subsequently returning there as an officer at the Somme, where acquaintances resume.

Constant flashbacks require two sets plus a very large cast and somehow these are accommodated. Highly effective sound effects, lighting and costumes help make it all work.

While there are obviously echoes of Journey’s End, this is really a love story.  Chris Constantine (Stephen Wraysford) is on stage for virtually the whole time and is impeccable, but the glue in the trenches is provided by Richard Matthews in a remarkable performance as sapper Jack Firebrace.

There are outstanding individual portraits, often heavy on pathos, from all the cast in this complex but compelling tale which commands attention from beginning to the end.  Amazing.

Afterwards the play is moving on to The Minack in Cornwall where the larger stage may make it even more impressive.

Not a play to be missed – if you can get a seat.

Philip Horton




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