I just found out about a play called Beirut that’s being shown in a local theater in Saskatoon, Canada. I’ve never heard about it before but after googling a bit, I found out that it’s an 1987 play by American writer Alan Bowne and that it’s been reproduced few times throughout the years (Zoppa Brothers in 2011 and Meghan Cox. in 2013).
What I could not understand or figure out though is the reason why the play is called Beirut.
There’s also an HBO movie called DayBreak starring Cuba Gooding Jr that is based upon Alan Bowne’s play Beirut.
The film is a dystopian science fiction thriller set in the near future in a more authoritarian America. It deals with the social persecution and criminalisation of people who are infected with a sexually transmitted disease similar to HIV. Those who test positive for the disease are forcibly placed into quarantine camps. In the quarantine camps they are tattooed with a P by the authorities to indicate their positive status and shot if they try to escape. The quarantine camps are dilapidated places where patients are left to die without care or contact with the outside world.
Moira Kelly plays Blue a young woman who earns a living scavenging metal in the city. She goes with a friend who wants to be tested to a Helping Hand clinic. The clinic has the sinister slogan “Making your hard choices easier”. Outside the clinic they are given a card warning them against getting tested there. The card demands “Why is sickness a crime? Why is hospital a prison? Why does the helping hand hold a gun?”. Blue is disturbed by this warning and meets an activist in the resistance called Torch played by Cuba Gooding Jr.
The resistance works to prevent the quarantine of those who are positive. They arrange testing outside the official system so that they will not be quarantined. They rescue people being held by the Helping Hand clinic in order to give them medicine, care, and understanding. They distribute condoms and clean needles to help prevent the spread of the disease. This is contrasted with government advertisements for the Helping Hand clinics that threaten “The only way is not to play”.
A relationship develops between Blue and Torch and it is revealed that Torch is positive. Torch is arrested because of his activism and when the police discover that he is positive they send him to quarantine. Blue sneaks into the quarantine in order to see Torch. Blue wants to be infected by Torch so that they can live together inside the quarantine camp but Torch is reluctant to infect Blue. This central scene in the movie is the only scene in the play Beirut upon which the film is based. Blue could be considered an early fictional heterosexual example of a bugchaser.