FLICKY HARRISON speaks to a former Hollyoaks star as he joins the cast of Birdsong

FORMER Hollyoaks star Alfie Brown-Sykes is treading the boards in Birdsong, his first stage play.

The play, based on the war novel and family saga written by Sebastian Faulks, was adapted for television and radio as well as a drama. It is a real tear-jerker set on the front line in Amiens during the First World War.

Alfie says that in one scene in particular, when they are writing letters home, the audience always become emotional.

He even admits to shedding a tear himself when he first encountered the story. “It was the 2012 BBC television version that got me,’’ he said.

The former soap star says it was Lysette Anthony, who plays Marine Nightingale in Hollyoaks, who got the book for him.

“I was a bit late reading it, but it was good to read the original piece to get the idea behind the story, as the stage version script is somewhat different.’’

Alfie has two very different roles to tackle, Tipper and Gregoine.

“Tipper is a straight forward young boy who signed up at 15 years old. He lied about his age to answer the call to arms, the adventure. He finds himself out of his depth, a boy in a man’s world, and he struggles to deal with the mud, the shelling, the tunnels and the intense emotions of a war zone,’’ said Alifie.

“Gregoine is more fun to act, he is lighter and I just go around looking sulky and knocking things over.’’

The actor says that he gets on really well with all the cast, but particularly with Tim Treloar as he does a number of scenes with him, and he had a really good experience at his first taste of touring.

“It was digs in Bury St Edmunds, in a cottage where we had a fry up every morning,’’ said Alfie. “I hope they are all like that.’’

Alfie says he misses the camaraderie of working on Hollyoaks but as he still lives in Liverpool he does get a chance to catch up with friends in the cast. He says it is a very different discipline to stage work.

“It is relentless on a soap, gruelling. You get your script at 6.30pm learn your lines and shoot the next day. On stage you get to think about your character, rehearse over and over again to get it right. It’s the best experience I have had so far.’’

But playing Jason mean’t Alfie had a strong story line in Hollyoaks, one which he could get his teeth into. “I got really involved with my character who suffered from dysmorphia, which mean’t Jason could never be happy with his body. He took steroids at one point which meant I had to eat five meals a day to get from 11st up to 12st 7lbs. Then he became bulimic and I could understand why this happens, you do become obsessive.’’

There was the lighter side to starring in the soap when he got to do some real stunts during a scene with his on-screen twin, Charlie.

“I got pushed into a ravine. That was a fun week with lots of camera trickery. We cheated because the ravine was actually a small hill and I fell on to a crash mat,’’ said Alfie, who also has a real life twin brother.

“We are not identical, my twin on Hollyoaks looks more like me than my real twin! We are very different,’’ said Alfie.

The actor stays pretty fit by boxing. “My nan took me when I was seven and I fell in love with boxing,’’ he said.

Birdsong runs from, March 20 to 24 at Swindon’s Wyvern Theatre from 7.30pm Tickets are £16.50 - £25 from 01793 524481 or visit www.swindontheatres.co.uk

Birdsong runs from Tuesday, March 20 to Saturday, March 24 at Swindon’s Wyvern Theatre from 7.30pm.

Tickets are £16.50 - £25 from 01793 524481 or visit www.swindontheatres.co.uk