Preview: Heroes, Wyndham's Theatre, London

Oh, it was not such a lovely war

His play, Heroes, does just that. A gentle comedy set in 1959, it features three French veterans in a retired soldiers' home. Having struck up a close, if querulous, friendship, they keep boredom at bay by dreaming of escape. "It struck me that spending 25 years in a home was a strange destiny for someone who had spent four years in the trenches," says Sibleyras.

Heroes was a low-budget success in France, nominated in 2003 for a Molière award (France's Oliviers). This is a far grander affair, a star-studded West End extravaganza boasting John Hurt, Ken Stott and Richard Griffiths in a new translation by Tom Stoppard.

Sibleyras thinks the change is partly due to different French and British theatre cultures, in that the West End treats new plays as more of an event. He also thinks the British more happily embrace theatre that purports merely to entertain. Co-producer Daffyd Rogers agrees that Heroes is the perfect West End play: "It has three incredible parts for actors of a certain age - and the actors we've got are stage giants. It's commercial in that it's light and very funny, but it's also very moving."

Heroes has similarities with another French play, Yasmina Reza's Art, which ran in the West End for several years, and which Rogers produced (with David Pugh).

Rogers is full of praise for Stoppard's translation, which he agrees has brought a delicate British sense of humour to the original text. "Stoppard's language is sublime," he says. "Quite simply, he has fulfilled the brief to take a beautiful French play and to make it a beautiful play for the West End."

'Heroes' opens at Wyndham's Theatre, London WC2 (0870 950 0925) on 18 October

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