Looking back upon his life, 40 year old Gibran narrates his journey across the ocean, from New York, where he had moved with his family, to his hometown of Beirut to which he returned at 18. Almost immediately meeting a familiar face in a friend named Dima (Ayesha Patel), he is reminded of the place, and the lack of change that ensues there. After meeting an old companion of his imprisoned father, Farris Karamy (Stephen Rahman-Hughes), he is introduced to his daughter- Selma (Noah Sinigaglia)- and feels an instant connection with her. Warned of trouble, should he dare to fall in love, Gibran is determined to fight against the odds for this adoration to remain strong.
Bronagh Lagan never fails to excel with her directing, and this one is no exception. In conjunction with the perfect and utterly beautiful words, written by Nadim Naaman (who also plays the older embodiment of Khalid Gibran), this piece has some wonderfully rich storytelling. With minimal set and props, Broken Wings relies on the deeply enchanting score, and impressive cast to bring it to life. However, from the flowers on the ceiling, to the draping cloths, and maps projected across the floor and walls, the theatre still seems atmospheric, and a constant dreamy blend of colours throughout the lighting only adds to this. The moving stage creates an extra dynamic, and while used effectively, does lose its magic a little as the show goes on, as do a few elements of the script that could be lost.
Each actor brings their own tones to their tracks, generating a glorious mix of vocals. Despite many of the songs not seeming particularly distinct, there are lots, which all assist the telling of the narrative, and convey emotional depth well. Stand out pieces include 'All I Longed to See', sung by Soophia Foroughli as the Mother, and the ensemble, as well as Younger Gibran (Lucca Chadwick-Patel) during his arrival in Beirut, and 'Here In This Garden', when meeting Selma for the first time, in the majestic-sounding garden owned by wealthy Farris. The gorgeous ballad 'I Know Now' brings a true harmony between Gibran and Selma, becoming immersive to their relationship and awe they have for each other. Both 'Spirit of the Earth', with the Mother in the forefront, and the 'Finale' number- lead by Gibran and Dima- bring together the cast as a whole, to showcase their talents, and produce an amazing rejoice, regardless of the bittersweet tragedy that occurs.
Exploring means of immigration and contrasting lives, alongside the heritage and tradition that comes with a place we may call home, it is evident that the divide in social class, gender and culture is woven into Broken Wings; all approached with meaning. This Middle Eastern representation is welcomed, and crucially important to be diversifying the output of theatrical role models, and characters to identify with in particular. Depicting a story of true love and heartbreak, this show has real moments of beauty, and sorrow, all while being throughly enjoyed.