Theatre club commemorates battle with summer play

Alnwick Theatre Club is presenting Birdsong this summer.
Alnwick Theatre Club is presenting Birdsong this summer.

Coinciding with the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, Alnwick Theatre Club is staging Sebastian Faulks’ tragic, wartime-set love story Birdsong this summer.

The story, adapted for the stage by Rachel Wagstaff, is based in the turmoil of the trenches starting just before the big push for the Somme.

It tells the tale of the young Lieutenant Stephen Wraysford (played by Nick Biggers) trying to come to grips with the meaning of war and his passionate love affair with Isabelle Azaire (played by Olivia Waller) six years earlier in 1910 in Amiens when he was staying with Isabelle’s husband (played by Joe Towers) on a work exchange.

The story is told in the memory of Stephen as he flits from the carnage of the battlefield to the solace of his love affair with Isabelle, before we reach the denouement in 1918.

Peter Biggers, who is producing the play for the theatre club and co-directing with Glenda Fricke, is very excited at the prospect of bringing Birdsong to the Alnwick Playhouse.

It has only recently been released for non-professional groups to perform after an extensive professional touring production last year. Peter said: “It is such a poignant time to be staging the play with the 100-year anniversary of the Somme this year. I hope we can do justice through the play to the memory of the thousands of young soldiers who gave their lives at the Somme.”

The play is a challenge for the actors as well as technically as the majority of the play is set in and under the trenches at the Somme.

The club has provided the Gazette with two tickets to the play for the person that submits the most poignant story of a family member from Northumberland who was at the Somme 100 years ago. Their story will be published in the Gazette and also in the programme for the play during the run in August.

Send it to Battle of the Somme story, Northumberland Gazette, 32 Bondgate Without, Alnwick, NE66 1PN, or email ben.oconnell@jpress.co.uk
Tickets for Birdsong, which is being performed from Wednesday, August 24, to Saturday, August 27, are available now from the Alnwick Playhouse box office, priced at £11 premier, £10 standard or £9 concessions. Suitable for age 15-plus.