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Jodie Comer forced off stage by New York air quality

The city has been plagued with thick smoke from Canadian wildfires

By Joe Goggins

Jodie Comer in a screengrab from a ‘Prima Facie’ trailer, 2023
Comer’s understudy completed the performance. (Photo: YouTube)

Jodie Comer was forced to abandon her one-woman show on Broadway in New York on Wednesday (June 7).

The city has been engulfed by thick smoke drifting in across the border from wildfires in Canada in recent days, turning the sky red and raising concerns about the potentially toxic air quality in the area.

Comer, currently in the middle of a run of Prima Facie, which transferred from London’s West End earlier this year, left the stage after ten minutes of her matinee performance, complaining that she was struggling to breathe.

“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,” a spokesperson for the play told The Hollywood Reporter.

It was not the only event affected by the air quality; a performance of Hamilton was cancelled, along with sports events, including a New York Yankees baseball game.

Comer’s understudy, Dani Arlington, stepped in for Comer and completed the show, which runs around 100 minutes. This led to some audience members to complain and ask for refunds; others left when it became clear Comer would not return, per the BBC.

“We came to see Jodie Comer,” wrote one disgruntled audience member on Twitter. “She started [the] 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.”

Her London run in the role of Tessa, a barrister wrestling with her conscience as she defends people accused of sexual assault, won rave reviews, and earned her an Olivier Award. She is nominated for Leading Actress in a Play at this weekend’s (June 11) Tony Awards.

In New York City, residents have been advised not to leave the house without an N95 mask, and to stay indoors if possible. Dramatic photographs of a blood-red sky over the city’s iconic skyline have gone viral on social media.