On March 29, the ECC students and instructors who answered London’s call over spring break attended a play unlike any other: New Dawn Fades: A Play About Joy Division and Manchester.
New Dawn Fades follows four punk revolutionaries from Manchester, England who would unknowingly (and perhaps unwillingly) become one of the most influential bands of all time, Joy Division.
Written by Brian Gorman and directed by James Foster, New Dawn Fades doesn’t fall to the typical tropes of hero worship, but instead paints Joy Division’s history in a fresh, honest perspective—put within the context of their role in Manchester’s history as city, supplying the audience an experience unachievable through other forms of media.
Lee Joseph, playing Anthony H Wilson, serves as a spirit guide, narrating the play from start to emotional conclusion. While one could argue that Wilson plays the villain of the story, Joseph portrays him as a lovable asshole who contributes to the band’s downfall amidst his own demons.
Michael Whittaker stars as Ian Curtis, tortured soul destined for greatness in the afterlife. I thought I saw the ghost of Curtis, as Wittaker’s portrayal was to an expert degree, encapsulating the personal demons that brought Curtis’ internal struggle to an abrupt end. During the live performances of Joy Division’s most beloved songs, you could see the devil and angel ranging inside of Wittaker.
If you’re a fan of Joy Division, you already know how the story ends for the band. However, New Dawn Fades shows that the ending of every story isn’t what matters, but the true story is found within the journey that defines our lives as we rock toward our final curtain call. New Dawn Fades, much like Joy Division, leaves behind a legacy deserving of a standing ovation.
More information regarding New Dawn Fades can be found on their website.