Jodie Comer Leaves Broadway Stage After 10 Minutes Because the NYC Air Is So Bad

Comer, who's currently starring in Prima Facie, "had difficulty breathing due to the poor air quality in New York City," according to a statement.

Jodie Comer Leaves Broadway Stage After 10 Minutes Because the NYC Air Is So Bad
Photo:Getty Images

In case you’re somehow existing on Mars, it looks like New York City residents are…well, also subsisting on an increasingly uninhabitable planet. Due to raging Canadian wildfires, the air in the Big Apple has been permeated by a thick smell of bonfire smoke and an even thicker haze, forcing residents to reach for their face masks like it’s summer 2020. Since Tuesday, the city has boasted the worst air quality in the world, so it was inevitable that its host of events—including daily Broadway performances—would be impacted.

On Wednesday, during a matinée performance of Prima Facie, the one-woman play starring Jodie Comer at the John Golden Theatre, its star was forced to halt her performance after being on the stage for just 10 minutes. According to Variety, eyewitnesses said Comer informed the audience that she couldn’t breathe due to the air quality and a stage manager helped her from the stage.

“Today’s matinee of Prima Facie was halted approximately 10 minutes into the performance after Jodie Comer had difficulty breathing due to the poor air quality in New York City because of smoke from the Canadian wildfires,” Jim Byk, a representative for the show, said in a statement. “The performance started again from the top with understudy Dani Arlington going on for Ms. Comer in the role of Tessa.”

After Comer left the stage, her understudy, Dani Arlington, took her place and began the show again from the top. Representatives for Comer didn’t immediately respond to Jezebel’s request for comment.

For those unfamiliar with Prima Facie, Comer has not only won an Olivier but is nominated for a Tony for her tour-de-force performance as Tessa Ensler, an esteemed barrister charged with defending men accused of sexual assault. That is, until she herself is raped by a colleague about halfway through the play—forcing her to reckon with an inherently unjust criminal justice system. Comer spends nearly the entirety of the 100-minute play alone onstage. It’s an exceptionally demanding performance, emotionally, mentally, and physically—one Comer has been executing night after night since April 23. Writing that her sudden exit is understandable is, frankly, an understatement.

CNN has reported that a total of 414 fires are still active in Canada, 239 of which are deemed out of control, according to Minister of Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair. On Wednesday afternoon, New York Metro Weather tweeted that air quality “will remain horrendous tonight” but should start to improve by Thursday morning.

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