Theatre Review - Song From Far Away

Will Young is a revelation in this 75-minute monologue about grief and loss.

Willem is a gay banker in his thirties living in New York who returns to his estranged family in Amsterdam on learning that his younger brother Pauli has died suddenly of a heart attack. In an attempt to make sense of his grief, he writes letters to Pauli describing his journey home.

Rather than stay with his grieving parents, Willem books into a hotel. He visits the bars he used to frequent, hooks up with a stranger and meets a former boyfriend. All the while Willem struggles to find some sort of connection with his family.

He finds it easiest to bond with his sister’s daughter. When his father complains that he does not show enough emotion, one wonders if it is Willem’s sexuality that alienates him.

Given Young’s star billing and its title, you’d be forgiven for thinking Simon Stephen’s bittersweet play, written with lyricist Mark Eitzel, is a musical, but effectively it’s about one song that haunts Willem on his emotional and physical journey.

Song From Far Away is a slow burn. It’s an awkward piece for a solo performer as so much is focused on repressed emotions. Young rises to the challenge and his performance, sensitively directed by Kirk Jameson, is impressively restrained and heartfelt. (Particularly given the tragic death of Young’s own brother in 2020.)

The subtle movement of Ingrid Hu’s long curtains and Andrew Exeter’s evocative lighting artfully suggest the passage of time and changes of location.

When Young finally does sing, it’s a beautiful, delicate solo that conveys all of Willem’s suppressed pain.

Warmly recommended.

To  July 22

Originally published by Camden New Journal