I AM one of the unusual - and rather rare - people that has never seen or read Sebastian Faulk's Birdsong.

Despite rave reviews, and pleas from book lovers to give the novel a chance, I had never got round to reading Faulk’s popular book or watching the recent BBC adaptation.

So when the chance to watch the show at the Wycombe Swan came up I thought I’d give it a whirl and dive in as a newbie.

Rachel Wagstaff has significantly re-structured her original adaptation for the touring show, and I’m told from those ‘in the know’ that it improves the traumatic love story choosing instead to treat it as a historical piece with flashbacks.

With a stunning set and clever use of props the scenes moved seamlessly from the present day to soldier Stephen Wraysford’s memories of his lost love.

The cast of 12 give a powerful performance. John Smith, as Stephen, switches between his past and present with great ease, and Tim Treloar’s portrayal of the emotional struggle soldiers endured is brilliant.
Charlie G Hawkins, of EastEnders fame, makes his theatre début as 15-year-old Tipper who lies about his age to get into the army. His sad story is heartbreaking and Hawkins can be proud of his first role.

He also doubles up as Gregoire.

Polly Hughes also gives a great performance as a prostitute and Lisette Azaire.

Director Alastair Whatley and designer Victoria Spearing have created an amazing set and stunning production.

• There is still a chance to catch Birdsong at the Wycombe Swan. Visit wycombeswan.co.uk.