Charing Cross Theatre, London – until 26 March 2022
Adapted from Khalil Gibran’s Broken Wings, this new musical from Nadim Naaman and Dana Al Fardan features a beautiful soulful score that really captures the bittersweetness of the story and the relationship between Selma and Khalil – but it feels at times that this perhaps is not quite as strongly present through the book as it could be which seems to rush through moments that could be lingered over a bit more.
It has to be said that the set-up behind the musical is exquisite, as the older Khalil (played by Nadim Naaman) reflects on his past and relives his memories of his relationship with Selma in his mind – his constant presence on Gregor Donnelly’s colourful and warm set allows us to feel as though we are in his mind with him and helps to make it feel an absorbing experience. By having him narrate certain moments helps to keep the story grounded. There is also a lovely rhythm to Naaman’s book that captures Gibran’s voice in an understated way – particularly in the build-up to the finale.
The story itself though it has to be said could have been given more depth in terms of highlighting the twists and turns that life has in store for all of the characters. Yes, it covers themes such as family, duty, tradition and love but could have gone into further depth to explore the impact of this on the characters. Due to the number of songs (all of which are excellent and with beautiful orchestrations and arrangements by Joe Davison), while they drive the story forward effectively – I would have loved to have seen more of the characters interacting with each other outside of song just a touch more.
Bronagh Lagan’s production really brings to life Beirut at the turn of the 20th century and by staging it in the round gives the story a little more focus and intimacy to allow the audience to feel as close to the characters as possible. Meanwhile, Nic Farman’s lighting is by suitably romantic and warm – enhancing the emotional impact of each scene perfectly, but particularly so during the many heartbreaking moments that take place.
Performance wise, this is a very talented cast. Noah Sinigaglia as Selma has gorgeous vocals that I could quite happily listen to all day, while her performance is suitably heartbreaking as she battles with her head over her heart – the audience is never left in any doubt of the conflict that she feels. Meanwhile, Lucca Chadwick-Patel as Khalil plays him as an earnest, naive and passionate young man who is endearing and easy to like – a charming performance, while Ayesha Patel as Dima is wonderful support – a lively and uplifting presence that makes you wish she was more involved as the story unfolds.
Broken Wings could use a little work book wise, but this is a musical with its heart in the right place and is certainly worth popping along to the Charing Cross Theatre to watch for yourself.
By Emma Clarendon
Broken Wings will play at the Charing Cross Theatre until the 26th March.
‘This is a musical with its heart in the right place’: @LoveLdnLoveCul on @bwmusical at @CharingCrossThr, written by & starring @NadimNaaman. ★★★★ #BrokenWingsMusical #newmusicals