A Play on Words

Written by: Chong Tien Ee (20-E6)

Designed by: Poh En Xi (20-E3)

“Dear Evan Hansen” tells the tale of a high school senior suffering from social anxiety who later finds himself entrapped in the lies he spun as he fabricates a friendship with a deceased classmate. However, the truth soon unravels and eventually, Evan is forced to make a decision: Will he give himself over to the fantasy he’s created, or will he bite the bullet and risk losing everything he’s ever wanted? Through the lyrics in its musical pieces, this musical explores themes such as suicide and anxiety.

Waving through a Window

This number starts the musical off with a bang and provides the audience a first glimpse into Evan’s character and his mindset at the time. The song in question deftly introduces the dilemma of the alienated teenager and his longing to be seen and heard by others. This will be a recurring theme throughout the musical, and is something that fuels the decisions, albeit poor ones, Evan makes in  this story. Our protagonist feels detached and removed from everybody around him. When he approaches others, desperate to form genuine and caring relationships, they instantly turn their back on him and shut him out. This evokes the audience’s sympathy for the main character in this musical because we gain a deeper understanding  of  Evan’s  subconscious decision to fabricate his friendship with Connor Murphy, as he acquires more  attention  from  Murphy’s parents than he is getting from his own mother.

For Forever

This musical starts off on a cheerful note, with its lyrics illustrating a picturesque scene as Evan attempts to spin a convincing lie about his supposed friendship with Connor Murphy to his family. However, the song later takes on a melancholic and dark turn as it not only provides the first mention of Evan’s attempted suicide but also sheds light on how deprived he is of friendship and social interaction. The manner in which he describes and imagines his friendship with Connor is extremely saturated, dramatized and overall, rather unrealistic. Not only does this highlight the guise of our protagonist’s narrative, it shows just how unaware he is of true friendship and all that it entails. This is clearly demonstrated by the fact that his descriptions of his relationship with Connor seem rehearsed, almost as if it was something out of a movie. The lyrics also reveal more about Evan’s yearning for a friend, or even just someone who genuinely cares for him (who he never had before), and it is the portrayal of loneliness that causes our hearts to go out to him. This number marks the start of Evan’s downward spiral into self-deceit as he continues to spin more and more lies that will eventually catch up with him.

Words Fail

Possibly one of the most heart wrenching moments in the musical,  Evan’s lies have finally been brought to light and he  bears his heart out to the Murphys, offering them an explanation to his deception. The song brings listeners through a rollercoaster of emotions, starting off with Evan fumbling for the right words to explain his actions. However, as he realises that the root cause of his behaviour towards his family and schoolmates was the intense longing for a false reality, he slips into nostalgia, sadness and loneliness. As the song reaches the climax, we realise the extent of Evan’s self-loathe and shame after deceiving the Murphy family about the nature of his relationship with Connor. As the number ends, it dawns on him that there really is only one solution to his predicament – come clean and “step into the sun”, a bold first step in overcoming his sense of isolation. 

With powerful songs and profound messages, this brilliant and nuanced piece is incredibly relevant to teenagers our age and applicable to everyone because we have all experienced feelings of remorse, guilt and struggled to connect  with one another at some point in our lives. The songs featured in this musical not only aid in furthering the plot, but also allow the audience to empathise with Evan as a deeply flawed character. Peppered with incredibly moving musical pieces, this musical delves into topics such as mental wellness and explores the emotions brought out by the dark side of the human psyche such as loneliness and depression, therefore making “Dear Evan Hansen” definitely worth seeing.

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