"Jodie Comer is getting rave reviews for her performance in the one-woman Broadway play “Prima Facie,” but her June 7 performance was cut short due to the air quality crisis in New York City.
"Eyewitnesses say Comer told the audience she couldn’t breathe because of the air and a stage manager helped her off stage about 10 minutes into the matinée performance. The show resumed from the top shortly after with Comer’s understudy Dani Arlington taking over the role, a spokesperson for the play confirmed to Variety."
To carry a one-woman play like Prima Facie under the bright lights of Broadway takes a hell of a lot of stamina. By all accounts the show is physically and emotionally demanding. At the center is a criminal defense lawyer who, let's just say, goes through some serious trauma. Won't spoil too much here, but it's somewhat adjacent to Jodie Comer's exceptional work in Ridley Scott's The Last Duel in some ways.
So I can hardly blame Jodie Comer for getting about 10 minutes in and saying, "NAH." It has to be tough when you're not fully locked in and you're not sure you can even breathe properly. You have to get that voice to the back of the house at the John Golden Theatre, and you can't really do that if oxygen is difficult to come by.
Kind of a raw deal for all the other folks involved, though. Broadway shows often have big-name film/TV actors attached to them to hike up ticket prices and sales, so you can bet many Comer fans were disappointed when she spontaneously peaced out. Then there's the optics of having the understudy have to go on with zero heads-up, and try to succeed amid trying conditions that Comer decided were too much for her to bear.
To be clear, I'm not invalidating Comer's abrupt exit from the stage. The air quality was pretty damn bad in the greater New York City area in recent days. The whole sepia-toned sky even turned red at certain points due to the smoke billowing in from those wildfires in Canada. Looked like something out of Blade Runner 2049 or [insert futuristic dystopian sci-fi movie here].
Comer is obviously getting rave reviews and already won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actress when Prima Facie had its run on the West End before moving to Broadway. She has been nominated for a Tony, too. Taking a quite-literal breather for one show on the whole run isn't the worst thing.
…And you know what? All's well that ends well. Those who stuck around to see understudy Dani Arlington take center stage appeared to be treated to a powerhouse performance. I think it's awesome when, to make a sports analogy, the ultimate pinch-hitter scenario arises in THE THEATREEE and you see someone knock it out of the park.
At least according to a post Arlington reshared, there was a standing ovation, and morning show star Jenna Bush Hager gave her mad props for making the most out of a trying situation.
Fuck yeah, Dani Arlington. SLAY that shit.