New York air quality forces Jodie Comer to pull out of play minutes into show

The Environment Protection Agency announced yesterday that the air quality in the state was unhealthy.

Jodie Comer was forced to halt a matinee performance during a Broadway show after experiencing breathing difficulties due to polluted air caused by wildfires in Canada.

The one-woman play Prima Facie was halted approximately 10 minutes in, after the 30-year-old actor from Liverpool began coughing and telling a stage manager she could not breathe.

It came as thick smoke poured into the US East Coast and Midwest from Canada, causing hazardous levels of pollution. The Environment Protection Agency said on Wednesday that the air quality in the state was “unhealthy,” and citizens were warned to limit outdoor activity.

A spokesperson for the show said: “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. The performance was set to start again from the top with understudy Dani Arlington going on for Ms Comer in the role of Tessa.”

Comer, also known for her role in the thriller series Killing Eve, stars as British defence lawyer Tessa, and was recently nominated for a Tony Award for what is her debut role on Broadway. The play has secured four Tony Award nominations at the 2023 ceremony after receiving critical acclaim on London’s West End, including Comer scooping the best actress award at the 2023 Olivier Awards.

Canadian officials were left asking other countries for help to tackle more than 400 wildfires nationwide, in what it called the nation’s worst wildfire season ever. Many Canadian citizens have been evacuated, including 7,500 in Chibougamau, the largest town in northern Quebec and roughly 4,000 residents of the Cree town, Mistissini.

Smoke travelling into the US had recently intensified, with around 100 fires in Quebec considered out of control. Unhealthy air extended as far as North Carolina and Indiana, affecting millions of people, many of whom began wearing pandemic-era face masks.

WriterChris Saunders
Banner Image CreditBBC / Killing Eve