Performance of Stephen Sondheim's Passion at the Donmar Warehouse have been cancelled after actor David Birrell was accidentally shot in an on-stage duel during Saturday's matinee performance (2 October 2010). A faulty firearm is thought to have caused the accident, which led to the actor being hospitalised.

Birrell sustained a serious eye injury during the accident and is still receiving treatment at University College Hospital. The injury reportedly occurred during a scene where Birrell, who plays Colonel Ricci, challenges Giorgio (played by David Thaxton) to a duel. Birrell is believed to have sustained the injury after the faulty gun was fired.

A statement on the Donmar's website reads: “During the matinee performance of Passion on Saturday David Birrell sustained an injury to his eye for which he is currently being treated in hospital. Our priorities are to David’s well being and recovery; and to theatregoers who have purchased tickets for performances in the coming days. We are cancelling the show Monday to Wednesday and then hope to resume performances from Thursday. We will of course refund patrons who are unable to see the production."

Birrell has previously appeared at the Donmar Warehouse in Grand Hotel, and was a member of the original cast of Monty Python musical Spamalot. His recent credits also include Peter Pan and The Secret Garden at West Yorkshire Playhouse.

Passion, which opened on 21 September (previews from 10 September), is due to run until 27 November 2010. It stars David Thaxton stars as the hero Giorgio, a young officer separated from his mistress Clara (Scarlett Strallen), and sent away to a remote army outpost. There he’s relentlessly pursued by the devoted Fosca (Elena Roger), his commanding officer’s ailing cousin. The new production, the centrepiece of the Donmar’s Sondheim at 80 season, is directed by Donmar associate Jamie Lloyd.