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Final cast announced for London transfer of Beryl

Kitty Underwood

By Kitty Underwood First Published 11 September 2019, Last Updated 18 September 2019

The final casting has been announced for the London transfer of Beryl, a play by Maxine Peake about pioneering racing cyclist Beryl Burton.

Featuring Jessica Duffield (Goodnight Mister Tom, My Big Little Sister) , Mark Conway (Blue Departed), Annie Kirkman (Red Riding Hood, A Christmas Carol) and Tom Lorcan (Romeo & Juliet, Julius Caesar), the play will transfer to the Arcola Theatre from 16 October for one month only.

Cast of Beryl: (l-r) Mark Conway, Jessica Duffield

Cast of Beryl: (l-r) Annie Kirkman, Tom Lorcan

As a young child, Beryl suffered rheumatic fever that left her with a weakened heart and was strictly advised against strenuous exercise for life. Clearly, that wouldn’t stop her.

At 30, while Beryl was competing with no financial sponsorship and being branded ‘the Yorkshire housewife’, she became the first sportswoman in history to break a men’s competitive record.

Funding herself through working on a rhubarb farm, Beryl broke records and barriers alike from the 1950s until the 1970s. Beryl’s 12-hour time-trial wasn’t broken for 50 years. Rumour has it that as she overtook Britain’s best male cyclist to set the record, she offered him a liquorice allsort before disappearing into the distance.

The play not only paints an admiring portrait of Beryl Burton as an absolute force of nature, but shows the community and comradery that grows in the sporting world. It stands as a fitting tribute to a woman with solid determination and a huge heart.

Actor and writer Maxine Peake brings her acerbic wit to an already incredible story of a woman who refused to stop fighting against the status quo. The play is a special commission as an adaptation of Maxine Peake’s critically acclaimed 2012 radio 4 play about Beryl Burton and is Maxine’s stage-writing debut.



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