Dear Evan Hansen (Noel Coward Theatre)

One of the most celebrated new musicals of the 21st century, Dear Evan Hansen takes teenage anxiety, depression and suicide and mixes it with modern technology to create something which is unique and emotional.

Evan is socially awkward and has no friends. He spends his time away from school in his bedroom or seeing his therapist. He’s been set an assignment to write daily letters to himself, hence the show’s title.

When school oddball and drug addicted fellow teen Connor Murphy dies from suicide (we are never told how, nor do we need to know) Evan’s letter sets off a chain of events he is quickly powerless to control. It finds him a substitute family, and a popularity amongst his peers he never had.

Connor's mum and Evan's mum

Photos by Matthew Murphy. At this performance as at all matinees the role of Evan is played by Marcus Harman.

Dear Evan Hansen, I started this as a regular review but you made me reflect on things like isolation, friendship, the need to belong, the pressure of being a teenager.

Dear Evan Hansen, you have the mindset of an anxious teen who just wants to be loved, to help, and make friends, coming through with such clarity. In both Evan and Connor, and even in Zoe too, we see the confusion in that growing time between child and adult.

Dear Evan Hansen, you say that “no-one deserves to be forgotten” but also show Connor’s grieving family “sing no requiem”. The deliberate act of a child to end their own life is devastating for a family left behind. An adult is bad enough, but a child on the cusp of all their potential?

Dear Evan Hansen, you start as a well-meaning need to help a family in distress. Let them think the writing exercise is their son’s cry for help. Let them remember a thoughtful boy who loved trees and wanted to talk to his sister.

Dear Evan Hansen, you handle a sensitive subject very well. Suicide is shocking and can rip families and communities apart. You misremember people (rightly, because no one person is all good or all bad). You forget all too quickly what was real and what was not.

Dear Evan Hansen

Dear Evan Hansen, you depict Evan’s mother and Connor’s parents with such truth and understanding. The mother who sees her child isolated day by day and is unable to help him. The father who just wanted to play catch with his son and the mother indulging a destructive force she couldn’t control.

Dear Evan Hansen, in creating imaginary Connor you give this child his life back. In dying, he becomes something he never got to be. He “will be found”. In ending his own troubled life he becomes a force for good, even if technology makes everything blow up out of proportion.

Dear Evan Hansen, you handle a revelatory moment which such tact and care that we cannot be anything other than moved. Every character on the stage has us in their hearts. The Murphys, who still look for something to cling to, especially Zoe who has been in fear as second fiddle all her life. Evan, who has found himself and a purpose.

Dear Evan Hansen, I lost my closest friend to suicide. We’d known each other since nursery. She was always troubled and found it difficult navigating through life. She wasn’t a saint or a sinner. She does not deserve to be forgotten. But her death broke her father’s heart.

Dear Evan Hansen, you are special, a special show with something real and beautiful. Even in viral messages, fake emails and impassioned speeches of fantasy, deep within is an intention that resonates with those who have felt anxious, disregarded, unloved.

Sincerely, Me.

For S (1971-1991).

LouReviews purchased a ticket to see Dear Evan Hansen.

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