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A Morning with Guy Burgess - Courtyard Theatre

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

A MORNING with Guy Burgess, a new play by former Reuters foreign correspondent John Morrison, runs at the Courtyard Theatre (Main House) from January 13 (previews from January 11) to January 30, 2011.

It’s 1963 and a summer’s morning in Moscow. As the Soviet Union’s first woman cosmonaut is feted in Red Square, exiled spy Guy Burgess refills his glass and decides that twelve years in the socialist paradise is enough.

His liver has reached the point of no return, his Soviet controllers have lost interest in him, and even the prospect of umpiring Donald Maclean’s cricket match no longer appeals. But his dreams of returning to his old haunts in London are interrupted by an unexpected visitor – who also has a story to tell.

John Morrison was based in Moscow for several years during the 1970s and 1980s, and A Morning with Guy Burgess paints a fresh picture of the outrageous life and times of the spy who never really wanted to defect, and asks wider questions about the nature of belief, loyalty and betrayal.

The Cambridge spy ring of Philby, Burgess, Maclean and Blunt fascinated the public throughout the 1970s and 1980s, inspiring plays, films and books about why they betrayed their country. But as the centenary of Burgess’ birth approaches, this new play explores for the first time his tortured relationship with his new homeland – Russia.

A Morning With Guy Burgess draws on new information that has emerged from KGB archives in the last 20 years, as well as the author’s own conversations with people who knew Burgess, including the Soviet spy who controlled him in London in the late 1940s and helped arrange his spectacular defection in 1951.

John Morrison is a veteran Russia expert who knew many people in the Moscow ‘twilight world’ Burgess lived in, including Donald Maclean. He is the author of Anthony Blair Captain of School, a comic novel based on his time as a Westminster lobby correspondent, and two non-fiction books about politics, including the first biography of Boris Yeltsin in 1991.

A Morning With Guy Burgess is directed by Georgian director Dimitry Devdariani, whose work in the UK includes The Gift at Greenwich Playhouse and Lynn Ruth Miller’s How Life Begins for Resonance FM, as well as projects with Russian Theatre-studio Alkonost.

Tickets: £15, £11 concessions.