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Review: Song From Far Away, Hampstead Theatre starring Will Young

Will Young in Song From Far Away at Hampstead Theatre. Photo Mark Senior-6
Will Young in Song From Far Away at Hampstead Theatre 2023. Photo: Mark Senior

Yes, I voted for Will Young on Pop Idol, but I've never seen him on stage as he's mainly done musicals, so I was excited to see him in Song From Far Away.

The fact that I loved the play the first time I saw it at the Young Vic back in 2015 added to the excitement.

It’s told in the form of letters Willem (Will Young) has written to his dead brother Pauli, recalling the trip home to Amsterdam for his funeral after 12 years away living in New York.

Willem is a sharp observer of the people he encounters and his family. His comments are arch. And yet he retreats from any meaningful connection, avoiding family engagements.

Rather he opts for casual sex in the hotel he is staying at and yearns for a relationship he had when he was younger that he ran away from.

His emotions, in part, reflect the stages of grief; he is in denial, he gets angry, he bargains, and he is depressed, but it is also driven by introspection sparked by the loss.

The sudden absence of his brother and the return home forces him to reflect on his life and his actions.

It's a simple set, a sofa and an armchair which can double as a smart New York apartment and Amsterdam hotel. Panels of sheer curtains or marble at the back of the stage move and switch to denote changing locations.

Sometimes when someone is so familiar, it can get in the way of the character, but Will Young is lost in Willem.

The giveaway is when he sings snatches of a song, there is no hiding his distinct singing voice. Hearing it live in the relatively small space of Hampstead Theatre took my breath away.

His performance is well-paced, and a sassy tone draws out the humour of Willem's comments, but it doesn't hit quite the same level pathos of the original production.

I'm giving it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This was a review ticket.

Song From Far Away, Hampstead Theatre

Written by Simon Stephens and Mark Eitzel

Directed by Kirk Jameson

Starring Will Young

Running time 1 hour and 20 minutes without an interval

Booking until 22 July, visit the Hampstead Theatre website for more information and to buy tickets

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