See It In Style: Dear Evan Hansen
| By Kay Johal
Nestling in at the Noel Coward Theatre on London’s St Martin’s Lane is the incredible Dear Evan Hansen. Given the numerous awards it has garnered and the Grammy Award for best Musical Theatre Album, it's my time to take a seat in the glorious auditorium and settle down for the evening. The staging for the show is simple and, I would imagine, this is in order to focus the mind on what’s being played out. It’s an intimate theatre and with a fairly small cast it was perfectly matched. Heads up – no matter what seat you choose, you will get a good view!
Sam Tutty in the titular role is shy, awkward and anxious, with a dollop of pessimism thrown in. He lives with his overworked mother who holds guilt and devotion in equal measure. His escape is the internet, social media, whiling away the hours, he can be whoever he wants to be, and tell whatever false narrative about his life that he wants. However, the hyperbole and exaggeration unravel and this is where the beauty of Dear Evan Hansen is brought to life.
The focal point is mental health in teenagers and young adults and the impact of isolation and insular lives; we all experienced it during the pandemic and how it affected us, even though there is now some semblance of normality. There are heartachingly soulful songs and the score is joyful. It is a timely reminder that ‘no one deserves to be forgotten' and 'you will be found’. It also highlights the importance of recognising mental health symptoms "what are you on?" – stressing that there is no need for shame or guilt if medication is required. Of particular note were the therapy suggestions, we all know that it is good to talk, however, Evan was given particular affirmations to repeat to himself, write a letter to himself and this further rammed home the importance of regular mental health check-ins.
As an advocate of good mental health (I am a Trustee for a Mental Health Charity) Dear Evan Hansen is a show I would see time and again. I left the theatre with the storyline in my head well after the final curtain had dropped.
🎫 Book your tickets for Dear Evan Hansen here.