Review by Daz Gale
Late last year, Nadim Naaman and Dana Al Fardan brought the world premiere of their musical Rumi to London for two performances only. Now, just three short months later, the pair are revisiting their other musical Broken Wings for a limited season in the West End.
Based on the novel of the same name by Kahlil Gibran, this musical adaptation of Broken Wings began life as a semi-staged concert at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in 2018. Multiple productions of the musical in concert form around the world followed and a concept album won it a legion of fans, but this production at Charing Cross Theatre marks the first time the musical has been fully staged.
A story of love and loss, Broken Wings sees Nadim Naaman as the older Gibran, looking back on his younger self, played by Lucca Chadwick-Patel and the events that shaped his life. This narrative choice is impactful, with Nadim always watching on and giving us the illusion we are watching through his eyes.
The cast that have been assembled for this production are quite simply incredible. Lucca is full of charisma as Gibran, while Nadim commands power whenever he speaks or sings with the beautiful tone of his voice. Ayesha Patel charms as Dima, and while Soophia Foroughi may play a relatively small role as Mother - when she opens her mouth to bless us with her stunning tone, it is utterly captivating. A truly brilliant cast, there isn't a weak link among them. Perhaps the standout performance for me was Noah Sinigaglia, remarkably making her professional debut, as Selma in what was a nuanced and remarkable performance full of growth, joy and despair.
Essentially a love story, we buy into the relationship between Gibran and Selma thanks to the chemistry between Lucca and Noah. The build up feels natural and not at all forced - a rare achievement considering the speed it has to establish our characters and tell the story. The characters feel fully fleshed out with Stephen Rahman-Hughes a highlight as the lovable Farris Karamy. The fact we fall in love with these characters so effortlessly makes the heartache that follows all the more devastating - a testament to the brilliant writing of the piece.
While there are moments of joy in the show, there are also some utterly traumatic moments. Without spoiling anything, one scene nearing the close is a hard watch, filled with pure emotion. Delivered with sensitivity, it is a triumph in storytelling. Themes at hand include gender equality, immigration and the overarching theme of having the freedom to be able to "love who we love". While the story may be set over 100 years ago and the world has come a long way since, they are still ever relevant with more work to be done.
A great story needs some top-quality songs to go alongside it. Thankfully, Broken Wings has no shortage of them. With orchestrations from Joe Davison, soaring melodies and poetic lyrics sweep through the theatre, deserving of a much grander stage but never losing anything even when faced with the sounds of a train overhead. Highlights include 'I Know Now', 'That Was The Day' and the rousing 'Spirit Of The Earth'.
Fantastic staging adds to the effectiveness of the story, with gorgeous set design from Gregor Donnelly. Staged in the round, it feels intimate and almost immersive, with great use of a revolve and a beautiful setting that lifts the story to gorgeous levels.
The creative team behind this including Direction from Bronagh Lagan and Production from Katy Lipson all have form, with their recent track records speaking for themselves. Broken Wings is no exception, making it another exceptional production for them.
A masterclass when it comes to storytelling, Broken Wings is theatre at its very best. Raw, emotional, full of heart and heartache in equal measure. Carrying an important theme, performed by a sensational cast and full of stunning songs, Broken Wings is a stark reminder of the true power of theatre and is an absolute must-see.
Broken Wings plays at Charing Cross Theatre until March 26th. Tickets from https://charingcrosstheatre.co.uk/theatre/broken-wings
Photos by Danny Kaan