COMMEMORATING the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, Birdsong is the hit, critically-acclaimed stage show based on the world famous novel by Sebastian Faulks.

In what is said to be its final touring production, Birdsong comes to New Brighton's Floral Pavilion from March 6-10 with its mesmerising story of love and courage set both before and during the Great War.

Simon Lloyd will be playing Arthur Shaw in this production of the novel adapted by Rachel Wagstaff and directed by Alistair Whatley.

"Arthur's a Yorkshireman, Sheffield born-and-bred," Simon explained.

"He's a mid-to-late forties family man with a couple of kids, who used to be a collier and, because of that, was signed up to undertake the tunnelling between the lines of The Western Front.

"It must have been a huge culture shock for the likes of many like Arthur, who’d never been out of their home city or town before, to end up in the terrifying mayhem that was The Somme.

"I didn't read the book when it first came out, although I am a history buff myself, because I didn't believe anyone who hadn’t experienced the events themselves could do them full justice.

"It was only when I was offered the part that I read the book and was absolutely blown away by the beauty of his prose and the manner in which he gets this really heart-wrenching story across.

"To be on tour in the year that commemorates the Armistice is wonderful and particularly as this will be the last tour."

Other than the story itself, what will resonate with audiences is the epic scale of the play.

The set itself is vast and almost becomes an extra character in proceedings.

"It's amazing what Victoria Spearing has created and how Alistair Whatley has directed the play to use it to the maximum," Simon said.

"Everything is done with a great deal of subtlety, particularly when depicting the claustrophobic intimacy of the tunnels themselves.

"The combination of the trenches, the tunnels and the raised areas gives the whole play a very different dynamic and I would say its the most technical touring set I've ever worked with, because of all of its different elements.

"The lights and the effects, too, all really conjure up an atmosphere unique to the time, I think, and is a very important part of the whole experience so that the play still packs a punch.

"It's amazing how it all fits into one articulated trailer, to be honest, and there are moments in it that will definitely have hairs standing to attention on the backs of necks.

"It's a huge piece of theatre in all respects.

"It's a very emotional journey, following two men through from 1910 up until 1918.

"Amidst the turmoil, there are a few chuckles thrown in and it is sort of an encapsulation of life at that time.

"I'm looking forward to coming back to New Brighton.

"I was up there a few years ago doing Horrible Histories and we had a great time up there, so it'll be nice performing in something quite a bit different, although still history based, with Birdsong."