Review of Birdsong at the Royal and Derngate

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A tale of love during one of the bloodiest periods of history comes to the Royal and Derngate this week.

Birdsong is a mesmerising story of love, courage and sacrifice, an epic tale of love and war set both before and during the Great War.

The one thing to take away from this show is that it is a very intense show. And nearly three hours, it is at times a very difficult watch when the subject of war, death and domestic violence are dealt with.

But the subjects are treated with such gravitas and the tale is so incredibly gripping that despite the subject material, this is a compelling and involving experience.

Particular credit must go to Jonathan Smith playing the male lead Stephen Wraysford and Tim Treloar playing Jack Firebrace. The scenes with the latter are particular heart-breaking.

This is a very clever production and credit must go to set designer Victoria Spearing, for creating an environment which can easily transfer from the bloodshed and carnage of trenches, to the gentle sedate pace before the war.

Overall, this is a terrific production, a gripping tale and tear-jerking all at the same time. It’s a fantastic show and one I could easily recommend.

Review by Steve Mills.

Birdsong is performed at the Royal and Derngate until Saturday. Tickets can be booked by calling the box office on 01604 624811 or visiting