Latest Review – Song From Far Away [HOME, Manchester]


HOME, Manchester

Until Saturday 11th March 2023


First performed by Toneelgroep Amsterdam back in 2015, in a production directed by Ivo van Hove, Simon Stephens and Mark Eitzel’s reflective, elegiac monologue musical has now been reworked and revised for this major new revival at HOME in Manchester, starring Will Young as the bereaved, nomadic Willem.

In his stylish New York City apartment one winter’s day, materialistic investment banker Willem receives a phone call from his mother informing him that his younger brother Pauli has passed away, and he returns back to the family home in Amsterdam for the first time after more than a decade away.

Told through a series of letters to his late brother, Song From Far Away is a bittersweet tale of reflection, disconnection and regret. Back in Amsterdam, Willem attempts to reconnect with his family and friends of the past, but he is unable to. He has simply been away too long, half-hearted though his attempts often are. New attempts at friendship and romance are merely superficial. There is resentment, blame, guilt. It is a largely unsentimental piece that portrays Willem as very much human; flawed, fragile, a little shallow, but it’s rich in detail and nonetheless compelling. Song From Far Away may seem fairly simplistic in its approach but it achieves a great deal in it’s relatively short run-time, and though there isn’t that big emotional gut punch, there is a lot of poignant depth for its audience to consider and reflect upon.

The production marks a welcome return to the Manchester stage for Will Young, 16-years after his debut in Noel Coward’s The Vortex at the Royal Exchange Theatre, and it’s a superb performance from the former Pop Idol winner. His delivery is pitch perfect. The understanding of the text, the timing, the rhythm, all exceptional. He perfectly captures the depth, the light and shade, the sarcasm. Every pause, every inflection is carefully considered and well executed. There’s a haunting eeriness to the songs in their delicate, stripped back intimacy and he performs them beautifully. It is rare you hear a theatre auditorium so silent but here you can hear a pin drop, with the audience hanging on to his every word.

Everything about director Kirk Jameson’s impressive revival feels elegant and clean, from the staging to the design, the lighting and the haunting piano score from Eitzel, arranged by Paul Schofield. Each aspect meticulously composed. Willem spends most of his time back in Amsterdam in a hotel room dislocated from normality and the comforts of his new home far way from the one he once knew. Ingrid Hu’s striking set is used to expert effect to evoke the claustrophobia and isolation.

Short, very well paced and brilliantly performed, this a beautiful new production of this poignant monologue not to be missed.

Running Time: 1 hour and 20-minutes (approx.), no interval.

Final Performance at HOME, Manchester: Saturday 11th March 2023.

For more information, and to book tickets, please Click Here.

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