The decade's most triggering comedy
Officials issued a code red “stay inside” warning for more than 100 million people in North America as smoke wafted across the continent due to hundreds of wildfires raging in Canada. New York was one of many American cities plagued by the smell of smoke. Social media was filled with images of major landmarks covered in an eerie orange haze.
Audience members said the play, which is about a lawyer who defends men accused of sexual assault and is later assaulted herself, had barely begun when the Tony Award-winning performer stopped, coughed, and said, “I can’t breathe this air” before being helped off the stage, per a report from The Daily Mail.
One show attendee said that the show went on with Comer’s understudy, Dani Arlington. Many attendees left and received refunds but others stayed and gave Arlington a standing ovation at the end of her performance.
Brooklyn-based artist Kim Savarino posted about the situation on Instagram. “Had one of those NYC days,” she wrote in stories, as the publication noted. “Saw [Prima Facie] and about ten minutes in Jodie Comer had to stop the show because she couldn’t breathe in the smoky air.”
She continued: “They closed the house curtain and did some stage management wizardry so they could start again an hour later – @daniarlington ate the f**k out of this role, and it was truly thrilling to be with her for those 100 minute [sic] (all hail the swings and understudies that keep theater together).”
“Truly one of my favorite things about theater is the chaos and unpredictability and liveness of it all, and this was a genuine bright spot in the apocalyptic hellscape that is NYC today,” she concluded.
Some attendees were disappointed that Comer left because they were hoping to see her perform.
“We came to see Jodie Comer,” one attendee shared on Twitter. “She started show. Had to stop for air quality. Now want us to see understudy. What is refund policy? Exchange? We came and paid high price to see Jodie.”
The smoke in New York City and across a large portion of the northeast and midwest is expected to possibly remain through the weekend. Air quality remains hazardous and government officials are advising people to remain indoors and wear masks if they have to go outside, especially anyone with medical conditions that affect breathing, such as asthma.