Marking the 100th anniversary of the First World War, Birdsong, the hit, critically-acclaimed stage show based on the world-famous novel by Sebastian Faulks, comes to the Kings Theatre.
In pre-war France, a young Englishman Stephen Wraysford embarks on a passionate and dangerous affair with the beautiful Isabelle Azaire.
He is the kind of man you would like to be in the trenches with because he has this big spirit that carries everyone, but in the end it is a very sad story.Peter Duncan on his character Jack Firebrace
As the war breaks out, Stephen must lead his men through the carnage of the Battle of the Somme and the sprawling tunnels that lie deep underground.
Birdsong will be coming to the Kings Theatre in Southsea from June 1-5 and stars Peter Duncan as Jack Firebrace, who is recruited to dig the tunnels used during the battles of the First World War.
He says: ‘Jack, my character, is a London tunneller and he volunteers to join the Sappers as they were called because the pay was good.
‘He has a wife and a son and his narrative is about confronting this inexplicable horror of war and what it does to him.
‘He is the kind of man you would like to be in the trenches with because he has this big spirit that carries everyone, but in the end it is a very sad story.’
Peter adds: ‘Most people think the First World War was about two lines of trenches and people going over the top shooting each other, but a lot of the war was underground, trying to blow each other up.’
Peter, a former Blue Peter presenter, has been to Portsmouth before.
‘In my Blue Peter days, I remember coming down and trying the helicopter crash simulator in Gosport.
‘There was this metal pod and you were strapped in with three other blokes, dunked into a swimming pool and turned upside down, as if the helicopter had been hit, and you had to escape.
‘They did it again in darkness. Everything goes black and you’re 20 feet underwater. I was thinking recently – “God, that is the same kind of horror and fear of being in the tunnels, trapped, and something terrible is going to happen.”’
Tickets: £19-£21, visit kingsportsmouth.co.uk or call (023) 9282 8282.