Broken Wings – Theatre Royal Haymarket until 4th August

★★★★

Review by Caroline Hanks-Farmer

Last week I had the privilege of attending the rehearsals of Broken Wings. You can watch my video excerpts here. Fuelled with a desire to see more, last night I visited show.

Background

New York City, 1923. An ageing Gibran narrates from his cold studio. Through poetry and music, he transports us back two decades and across continents, to turn-of-the-century Beirut. His eighteen-year-old self returns to The Middle East after five years in America, to complete his education and discover more of his heritage. He falls deeply in love with Selma Karamy, the daughter of family friend and hugely respected local businessman, Farris Karamy. However, Selma soon becomes betrothed to Mansour Bey Galib, nephew of the powerful Bishop Bulos Galib, who has one eye on the Karamy family fortune. Gibran and Selma fight to reconcile their love for one another, whilst navigating the rules, traditions and expectations that their society lays before them.

Photos by Marc Brenner

Review

Written by Middle Eastern duo Nadim Naaman and Dana Al Fardan, and directed by Bronagh Lagan; Broken Wings is a poignant, highly relevant and thought-provoking new musical. From where I sat, I observed Dana Al Fardan watching with pride, as hers and Naaman’s creation was brought to life, and rightly so. Classed as semi-staged, it really was more than that with a group musicians at each side of the stage, the powerful cast breathed life into this intense story.

The events of Broken Wings highlight key issues of the time. While I would love to believe that they have remained ensconced in the past, they unfortunately remain as relevant in today’s lives. Gender equality, and the freedom to love who we love, are struggles that continue more than a hundred years later. This is also evidenced in tradition versus modernisation and whilst it would be nice to say that both can live harmoniously, we all know from experience that sometimes they can’t.

Photos by Marc Brenner

The music however is both traditional and classic musical theatre, combined with the Middle Eastern vibes required for this production. I enjoyed it so much, and having been haunted by one song for the past week, that I even purchased a CD on the way out.

Last week we learnt that writer Nadim Naaman had been reluctant to cast himself, however I for one was delighted that he did. He brings the depth of character and voice required to play the older Gabrin. While Rob Houchen and Nikita Johal demonstrate their musical theatre prowess as one would expect of them. But extra respect must go to Nikita Johal who stepped in to save the day at such short notice, and did so with such style.

Photos by Marc Brenner

Other mentions must go to, Adam Linstead, Nadeem Crowe, Sami Lamine, Irvine Iqbal but Soophia Foroughi who led the number Spirit of The Earth, which has remained with me for the past week, gave us a scene stealing performance. Her powerful vocals and captivating stage presence had me entranced. In fact several times throughout this show I had goosebumps, the hauntingly beautiful songs play havoc with your feelings. Of course it is not the happiest of stories however that’s not to say that there aren’t also rousing numbers to enjoy.

In Summary

Broken Wings illustrates different cultural issues very well and, whilst there is further refinement required, it does not detract from the fact that it is definitely a dramatic new musical to watch. I can’t wait to see how it continues it’s journey and hope that this brief run at the Theatre Royal Haymarket fuels interest for future development. If the audiences response last night is anything to go by, it certainly will.

Listings

Book: Nadim Naaman

Music & Lyrics: Nadim Naaman & Dana Al Fardan

Orchestrations: Joe Davison

Director:  Bronagh Lagan

Producer: Ali Matar

Box Office

Click to book online

 or call 020 7930 8800 – 24 hours

Mon-Sat 10am-7.45pm calls to this number are answered by the Theatre directly, outside these hours and when we are busy calls are transferred to SEE tickets, who have access to the same seats and prices as the theatre.

If you would like to use SOLT Theatre Tokens as payment/part payment please either call us on 020 7930 8800 (10am-7.30pm Mon-Sat) or just pop in.

In person: Monday to Saturday 10am-6.30pm. Bookings for future dates stop at 6.30pm.

Theatre Royal Haymarket, Haymarket, London SW1Y 4HT

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