A love that shatters the night — the shards forever circulating in silence, impacting the rest of a person’s world. In ‘Broken Wings’, a musical based on Khalil Gibran’s 1912 book, the audience is offered an unvarnished look at such a love, the poet’s own. The story told in flashbacks, where the older Gibran is musing on his younger days and the brush with fate that still affects his daily affairs.
He recalls heading back to Beirut from American shores, just five years after first making that seafaring journey and meeting a friend of his incarcerated father whose daughter Selma Karamy will prove to be his greatest joy and unhappiest memory.
Gibran has taken on society in this rendition of the play, recalling the slow lowering of the shroud placed on his love by wagging tongues and expectations. Selma owing to her father’s fortune is “put into a market” and has been “bought” — a calculated move by a calculating bishop who makes the match between his playboy nephew and her.
Under pressure from this so-called savant, the father marries her off, only to be stifled by her silent screams — the marriage has not made her happy; it has proved to be her undoing.
Rebellion against the grain, followed by a tactful retreat — all the characteristics of the time, the early 1900s, are explored in this play. Through song and a live team of expert musicians that prove adept at pulling heartstrings. Unfortunately, the format doesn’t allow for a true immersion in the project.
The hallmark of a great musical — more than even its plot — is a song, or songs, that niggle into your sub-conscious and refuse to be pried away; a melody that just won’t stop. It’s haunting dialogue that magics a plot into unforgettable existence, it’s the stripping away of all superfluous details leaving behind a raw wound that hurts through the night. The songs detract, in my opinion; where they should stab, inflicting all the moroseness and helplessness that the character’s faces belie and their voices vent.
‘Broken Wings’ — the stripping away of a person’s choice by a societal construct — the placement of a person because of gender, allocated roles that one is forced into, is a theme resonant not just for Beirutis — it’s a plague that’s infected the whole world at some point or the other and in some degree. And perhaps the lessening of grand poetic statements in song and choosing spoken word instead may have made for a grander impact.
That said some words fell like the sound of rain to a parched ear. And the exploration of love — not just the romantic, but the more unspoken kind — felt for a parent, a departed acquaintance, a homeland, art and even poetry offer much in terms of takeaways.
Look behind the beautiful sets and peer behind the glitter of what seems to be at ‘Broken Wings’ true tale — the love that destroys a life and creates a patchwork to live a new reality by.