Theatre Review: Dear Evan Hansen at London’s West End

One of the newest productions to hit the stage at London’s West End is the innovative and uplifting Dear Evan Hansen.

Created by the musical masterminds behind The Greatest Showman, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, Dear Evan Hansen first premiered on Broadway at the end of 2016 and has since been recreated for a national American tour, a Canadian production, and now a British version.

The show tells the story of the titular character Evan Hansen, who struggles with anxiety, as he tries to cope with his every day life of social media and gossip, after a classmate commits suicide.

Unbeknownst to Evan, he is thrust into the spotlight and becomes entangled in a web of lies that he tries desperately to maintain.

Going into this production, I knew the story like the back of my hand, and knew the majority of songs word for word, so matching my expectations was always going to be difficult.

However, this show managed to surpass my expectations.

The production, choreography, songs and high standard of performance made this show one to remember.

I don’t know of any other show on the West End that talks about the struggles fuelled by social media that today’s modern teens face with so much ease – you’d be forgiven for thinking it was actually written by a teenager.

The presence of screens replicating social media websites, posts, phone calls and instant messaging conversations works incredibly well, allowing the audience to see into the lives of the characters and see exactly what they’re posting and saying.

The story interweaves every possible awkward event that a teenager might face – first love, friendship fallouts, financial difficulty, the stresses of applying to college (or university), parental abandonment, sibling rivalry and overbearing parenting.

Musical numbers Waving Through a Window and You Will Be Found are easy favourites, demonstrating the impressive capabilities of the cast, whilst Sincerely, Me helps relieve a little tension from the story and reminds us that going to the theatre is fun, and that these are teenagers who under different circumstances would be having fun.

Ultimately, Dear Evan Hansen brings to light some of the previously overlooked problems that today’s youth are facing, and will hopefully help older audiences understand what teenagers face and the pressures they have.

A brilliantly produced and entertaining show I would recommend to people of all ages, if only for the underlying message that everyone is facing a struggle that you know nothing about.

Dear Evan Hansen is showing at the Noel Coward Theatre until May 2020

By Faith Pring

Feature image credit: Evening Standard

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