Wolfblood’s Louisa Connolly-Burnham and Robert Rees (Ladies in Lavender) will star in the UK revival of Beirut by American playwright and author Alan Bowne, playing at London’s Park Theatre from 12 June to 7 July 2018, with a press night is 18 June and a post-show Q&A chaired by Mates co-founder Terri Paddock on 14 June. The production is directed by New York Drama Desk Award winner Robin Lefevre.
Written in the 1980s at the height of the AIDS crisis (when the playwright himself died from AIDS at 44 years old), 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.
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….
Also in the creative team are set and costume designer Liz Ascroft, sound designer John Leonard, lighting designer Leigh Porter and casting director Emily Jones.
Louisa Connolly-Burnham (Blue) had an early break as a series regular in the BAFTA-winning hit TV series Wolfblood (CBBC). She has since gone on to have an accomplished career in film and TV including: Call The Midwife (BBC), Death in Paradise (BBC), Midsomer Murders (ITV), Outnumbered (BBC), Little Crackers (Sky1) and many more. She recently had her professional stage debut in the regional premiere of TRIBES at The Crucible Theatre following its success at the Royal Court.
Robert Rees (Torch) originated the part of Andreas on the UK tour of Ladies in Lavender, directed by Robin Lefevre. Other stage credits include: The Mousetrap (St Martin’s Theatre); Macbeth (UK & 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).
Robin Lefevre is 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’ 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 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.