THERE are times during a visit to the theatre when you become so absorbed in a production that you are completely oblivious to the audience around you.

The emotions of the characters and the intensity of the plot affect you as though you are part of it. For me, this does not happen every time I watch a play, but when it does, it is an experience like no other.

It was certainly the case when my friend Rec and I went to watch Rachel Wagstaff’s stage adaptation of Sebastian Faulks’ critically-acclaimed novel, Birdsong.

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The production, which is touring the UK to mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, chronicles the ill-fated love affair between a young Englishman Stephen Wraysford and beautiful married French woman Isabelle Azaire. A heartbroken Stephen clings to the memory of Isabelle as he struggles to cope with the carnage of the Battle of the Somme.

From the outset, I was hooked. The spectacular stage set and dramatic light and sound effects, combined and the haunting melody of a lone violin, brought the trenches to life before our very eyes, while the talented cast portrayed the passion, joy, fear and despair that war and love can evoke in equal measure.

When Stephen and his men headed out into no-man’s land, I got goosebumps and not long after I was in floods of tears. I cannot recommend Birdsong enough – just remember to bring some tissues.

  • Until Saturday. Box office 03000-266600 and online galadurham.co.uk York Theatre Royal, March 24- 29. Box office 01904-623568 and online at york theatreroyal.co.uk