Dear Evan Hansen
I recently had an opportunity to go see a play with my daughter, Esther, at the Broward Center for Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale, FL. The play, Dear Evan Hansen, was new to me and I hadn’t heard of it until my daughter gave me a one sentence plot synopsis a week before.
I pretty much heard that it’s about suicide and some guy who takes advantage of the situation. I didn’t know it was a Broadway hit celebrated with critical acclaim.
She probably said a lot more but I didn’t remember much of what she said, walking into the very beautiful Au-Rene Theater. I was impressed by its similarities to the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami.
We sat pretty high up in the balcony, I could feel the heat from the spotlights on the back of my neck 🙂 I brought a pair of tiny binoculars and without them I wouldn’t have been able to see faces (mostly because my glasses are old).
The musical touched on some serious high school attitudes surrounding suicide and lying. The main character uses the suicide of a classmate and the confusion around a letter found on the suicide person to create a false relationship with the newly departed, remaining family and emotionally shook classmates.
The brokenness of each side is communicated fairly well, enhanced by the emotional songs and impressive stage production of digital screens.
Evan Hansen has told a lie that he has to tell more lies to keep the first lie alive which was: he was good friends with Connor, who killed himself. To make things worse he devises a plan to create a false past with the help of his friend, Noah. This familiar story of deception only has one possible end and I was frustrated because Evan kept telling more and more hurtful lies.
Evan tries to bring some sense of this tragedy and bring hope to Connor’s suffering family. But that inevitable end is waiting for us at the end. I guess that made me uncomfortable. Watching someone hurt with their lies, but at first, the lies were comforting.
According to Evans fantasy, Connor wasn’t as bad as he seemed. There was a better side of the teen that he wouldn’t let others see because of his internal anguish. This wasn’t true for Connor, but it was true for Evan.
Evan is telling the truth about his life through the lies about someone he only bumped into and happen to drop his letter and Connor happened to put it in his own pocket.
We learn a lot about Evan through his lies. It angered me to think that someone could be so deceptive and hurtful. It angered me that the character was likable and seemed to be utterly selfish, but he still wanted to please others. I was angered because I’ve been lied to. I to have been tragically deceived.
I will say that the play did stir up emotions and that is what good plays do. Reality is suspended when I believe that Evan is a real kind of person and that horrible person is hurting others. I wasn’t pleased with the outcome of this story. I believe that the play has a lot of heart, but seems to be missing a soul. The absence of the spirituality of people, made the ending seem unfair or unreal. There was no justice for Connor’s family who had been manipulated and injured on top of dealing with the pain of a suicide. The resolution was too matter of fact and people forgave and turned it into a positive experience.
“Yes, he lied, but look how much we’ve grown from knowing he’s told a lie.” My paraphrase. Evan did not have to face the consequences of his lies and received too quick a forgiveness without the reconciliation.
Lies separate us through the feeling of betrayal. We become separated and need to be reconciled. Lies require truth to expose them and truth to heal from them.
This was a touching play and apart from the few f-bombs and a obscene/vulgar statement, the story displayed emotions for its characters during a tragic time in everyone’s life. The acting was professional and full of passion. The stage was nicely designed and I was impressed by the use of semi transparent mobile screens which gave us the view of the digital sphere that is an intricate part of everyone’s lives especially kids and teens.