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UK revival of Beirut comes to Park Theatre

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

THE UK revival of Beirut by American playwright and author Alan Bowne will be performed at Park Theatre from June 12 to July 7, 2018.

Written in the 1980s at the height of the AIDS crisis (which the playwright died of at the age of 44), Beirut is a cutting examination of a society ravaged by a nameless disease.

Although written at a particular moment in history, the play transcends the issues of its time, and at its heart is a dark love story, questioning how society deals with the ‘abnormal’ in a society gone mad with fear and ignorance.

The issues explored are particularly relevant to 2018, when viruses such as Sars and Zika are prominent, and with an increasing and inevitable resistance to antibiotics.

The production is directed by New York Drama Desk Award winner, Robin Lefevre and stars Louisa Connolly-Burnham as Blue and Robert Rees as Torch.

I can live without sex and feel dead or risk death and feel alive.

Torch has been quarantined in a dark, squalid room on the Lower East Side of New York City, which the locals refer to as “Beirut” after testing positive for a nameless disease. Torch passes the time alone, forbidden from contact with the outside world.

His girlfriend, Blue, makes the dangerous journey across the quarantine line to be with him. Torch tries to keep her at arm’s length and they argue lovingly, jokingly, fearfully, bravely, and desperately about sex and death. All the while, Torch pleads with Blue to leave before his resistance fails….

Louisa Connolly-Burnham had an early break as a series regular in the BAFTA-winning hit TV series Wolfblood (CBBC). She has since gone on to appear in Call The Midwife, Death in Paradise, Midsomer Murders, Outnumbered, Little Crackers and many more. She recently made her professional stage debut in the regional premiere of Tribes at The Crucible Theatre following its success at the Royal Court. Her film credits include playing the role of Thaleia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Parkhouse Pictures) and Sarah in The Marine: Close Quarters (Sony Pictures), set to be released later this year.

Robert Rees originated the part of Andreas on the UK tour of Ladies in Lavender opposite Hayley Mills and Belinda Lang, directed by Robin Lefevre. For his performance he received a Broadway World UK Award for ‘Best Featured Actor in a Play’. Other stage credits include: The Mousetrap (St Martin’s Theatre); Macbeth (UK and Middle East Tour); Robin Hood (Watford Palace); The Governess (UK Tour); Fugitive Kind (Donmar Warehouse); All The Fun Of The Fair (Garrick Theatre); State Fair (Trafalgar Studios); Hobson’s Choice (Broadway Theatre); The Full Monty (Charing Cross Theatre); Shakespeare Sonnet Walk directed by Mark Rylance (Globe Theatre) and Perchance to Dream (Finborough Theatre).

Beirut is directed by Robin Lefevre, an award-winning British theatre director who has worked extensively in the West End and on Broadway. His directing credits include Brian Friel’s The Aristocrats for which he won the New York Drama Desk Award for Best Director, and Frank McGuinness’s Tony-nominated Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me (Best Foreign Play, New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award), as well as George Bernard Shaw’s Heartbreak House for the Roundabout Theatre Company. He also won an Evening Standard Award for Are You Lonesome Tonight (Phoenix Theatre).

Originally an actor, Lefevre started directing with John Byrne’s first play, Writers Camp. He went on to join the Hampstead Theatre, where he directed a number of plays including Bodies by James Saunders and Brian Friel’s Translations. More recently he has directed a host of classic, critically acclaimed revivals, often at the Gate Theatre in Dublin. His television work includes Alan Bleasdale’s major series Jake’s Progress (Channel 4), starring Robert Lyndsey and Julie Walters.

Beirut has set and costume design by Liz Ascroft, sound design by John Leonard and lighting design by Leigh Porter. Casting director is Emily Jones and dialect coach is Tim Charrington.

Beirut is suitable for ages 14+.

Tickets: Previews £14.50, Standard £18, Concessions £16.50, Child (Under 16) £13, Young Patrons (12 – 19 June) £10, Groups – buy 10 tickets, get the 11th free. To book, call the box office on 020 7870 6876 or visit www.parktheatre.co.uk/.

Times: Tuesday to Saturday evenings at 7.45pm, Thursday and Saturday matinees at 3.15pm.

Captioned Performance: Wednesday, June 27 at 7.45pm.

Park Theatre’s July to December 2018 Season.