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Created in 2014, Carpe Diem Emmie is a Midlands based Lifestyle, Theatre and Travel blog. Ran by Emmie, a 28 year old woman based in rural Leicestershire.

In the day Emmie works in a primary school where she is passionate about inclusion and mental health. In the evening she escapes to the cultural world.

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REVIEW | Dear Evan Hansen, Noel Coward Theatre

85-88 St Martin's Ln, Charing Cross, London WC2N 4AP, UK


DEAR EVAN HANSEN
NOEL COWARD THEATRE, LONDON

Easily one of the productions that has been on my theatre bucket list since I first listened to the Broadway soundtrack back in 2016. I longed to see the musical whose words shouted out loud what it feels like to have social anxiety and in fact, Dear Evan Hansen reminded me I'm not alone. It’s one of those soundtracks I listen to CONSTANTLY so when it was announced that the Tony and Grammy Award-winning production of Dear Evan Hansen would finally be heading to London, I had to book tickets (even if they were blooming expensive!). 

Dear Evan Hansen centres around Evan, a high school child who yearns to fit in with his fellow peers. Like 1 in 4 people in the UK (Mind), Evan suffers from a mental health disorder, Social Anxiety. This means that he finds social and performance situations very difficult, therefore fitting in isn’t easy and he is quite isolated at school. Evan is seeking help from a therapist who encourages him to write encouraging letters to himself in the hope it will enable him to seek things outside of his comfort zone. However, one of his letters falls into the hands of a bullying schoolmate, Connor Murphy, shortly before he kills himself. It’s Murphy’s parents who discover Evan’s letter and assume that it’s genuinely for him. Evan does nothing to tell him they’re wrong and creates an extreme fabricated friendship that brings him closer to the Murphy family, particularly Connor’s sister Zoe who he’s in love with and sees a memorial tribute to the teenager go viral all over social media. 

For this production, we were led by Marcus Harman as Evan and he was an absolute delight. Harman had a real eye for the vulnerability in Evan’s character and definitely knew how to draw the audience into the story. His rendition of the musical numbers was sensational and brought many tears to my eyes. Waving Through A Window is the first number that we see by Evan and Harman gave us the perfect performance to characterise his character, really drawing us on the anxious thoughts and actions that can be very difficult to live with. Although his best performances are definitely in You Will Be Found and Words Fail for sure, they were easily stand out numbers of the production for me.




The musical touches on a wide range of sensitive matter in such an incredible, touching way. Isolation, grief, fake news, social media, mental health are all crammed into this production and it’s perfect for the modern audience. It truly highlights the influence that social media and fake news can have in such a rapid way.

Doug Colling takes on the role of Connor Murphy. Although he is the main catalyst for this story we don’t see a lot of him but his impact is huge. We discover that Connor suffers from anxiety and depression too but was unable to get help in time. His relationship with his family is very strained and he’s the freak at school.  His sister Zoe (Lucy Anderson) plays a pivotal part in portraying the grief left by Connor’s death, she shows the heartache but there’s resilience in her character too. Her performance of Requiem really tugs at the heartstrings. 

This musical also does a superb job in showing the frustration and emotional ties for a mother. Lauren Ward and Rebecca McKinnis do a spectacular job at doing this within their roles individually. 


Collectively though, this small cast is incredible at bringing such a deeply personal and profoundly contemporary story to life. The staging of this production is nothing but excellent, although it may seem sparse the use of projection and social media is so apparent and clear throughout. They both work in perfect harmony and its effect is defined well. 

Dear Evan Hansen is a story that is raw, important and true. It speaks out to those struggling with mental health that You Will Be Found. It has something for everyone to relate to in this production, whether your a mother or a teenager. It spoke volumes to me and was emotionally one of the best productions I’ve ever witnessed. It should stick with you long after you’ve seen it and hopefully it will encourage more conversations around mental health.

Dear Evan Hansen is taking bookings until 30 May 2020.

Comments

  1. I was the same as you - constantly had this soundtrack on repeat when it first came out and was desperate for them to announce it in the west end. I'm finally going to see it in May and I already know that I'm going to be an emotional wreck, but also that it will be fantastic. So excited!

    Abi | https://whatabigailsays.co.uk/

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