When I first visited the battlefields of Flanders 25 years ago the experience left a lasting mark on me.

I read the heart-breaking letters now in a glass case in a museum written by soldiers but never sent.

I walked through underground tunnels and stood shivering in the inhumane trenches.

Since then I have seen many WWI stories on stage and film: War Horse and the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme being two adaptations.

The strength of this touring production is the first class production values.

The loud explosions jolted me in my seat and made me think just what the real noise 100 years ago in those desolate fields must have been like.

It is a collection of bitter-sweet love stories: the backdrop to the bravery of soldiers for their families back home and the shell-shocked hearts of two lovers – Englishman Stephen Wraysford (Tom Kay) and unhappily married French woman Isabelle (Madeleine Knight).

The action all takes place in France: the Western Front in 1916-1918 with flashbacks to Amiens in 1910.

Directors Alastair Whatley and Charlotte Peters deftly keep the audience’s attention with ghost-like sequences – characters weaving in out of the storyline.

The atmospheric multi-purpose set by Victoria Spearing is exceptional: tunnels, stark barbed wire and a French country house.

Stunning lighting and sound effects make for a compelling two hour 20 minute piece of dramatic storytelling with some beautiful music and songs.

James Findlay’s violin playing touches the heart-strings On the way out two women said how school parties should see this play especially in this year the 100th anniversary of the end of First World War.

A history lesson told with passion.

One sequence is particularly moving - the soldiers reading their letters to and from Blighty.

Tim Treloar as ‘sewer rat’ Jack Firebrace gives an outstanding portrayal of a heroic ordinary ‘Tommy.’

As we hear the melancholy birdsong of the title from 100 years ago it is sad to think that just 31 years after 1918, the world was plunged into war all over again.

The birdsong wouldn’t be heard on the battlefields again for another five years.

This play reminds us all of the sacrifices made by people from all walks of life.

Powerful, poignant and haunting - five stars.

Birdsong is on until March 10 and tickets are available from the Floral Pavilion box office on 0151 666 0000.