Burnout debuted as a fringe-style piece at the Three Minute Theatre (Afflecks Arcade) to sell-out crowds and outstanding audience feedback. It went on to win a ‘Highly Commended’ Northern Soul Award in the ‘Theatre Production of the Year’ category. A year later, it returns to the city of its birth as a full-length, two-act play, at The King’s Arms.
Lovin Manchester referred to Burnout as “an unusual play … with a subject very close to Manchester’s heart.”
The play takes place over a few hours of one night, at a 24-hour gym. It revolves around the disappearance of a popular man called Raf and explores the impact he made on those in his life and “the little spiral of chaos” he left in his wake. For instance, Raf’s disappearance opens wounds between the flirtatious Megan and her loving girlfriend Becky, and it is a catalyst for a “very messy” love triangle with Elise, an obsessive gym member.
The playwright warns not to take Burnout‘s subject matter lightly, even though it sounds captivatingly dramatic. The play deals with issues such as suicidal thoughts and drug abuse. Its explicit aim is to normalise talking about mental health and to help fight the stigma, via theatre. However, there are many light moments of humour throughout, making the play educational, enjoyable and entertaining.
As well as discussing the important subject of mental health, it also features a lesbian couple amongst the characters. It certainly appears to be a progressive play.
Selina Helliwell, an up-and-coming young writer from Greater Manchester, is behind this ambitious new play. Helliwell wrote the play after working with esteemed playwright Jim Cartwright at The Cartwright Drama Studio in Manchester. Cartwright has long been an inspiration for Helliwell. Cartwright’s aim to make drama training more accessible for working-class actors was especially inspiring for her.
So, whether you want to be informed about important issues through theatre, enjoy and be entertained by an excellent new play, or support emerging young talent, this is an event you don’t want to miss.
Burnout runs at The King’s Arms in Salford on Friday the 18th and Saturday the 19th of October.