Phoenix Theatre, London
We all remember where we were when 9/11 happened – right? Watching the horrors unfold stunned us beyond words. At the time I ran a bank, so I sent my staff home as soon as I could and went to join my parents to watch it. My father turned to me and said “you went up the twin towers around this time last year didn’t you?” I located our tickets and with cold realisation saw that they were dated 9/11/00. It made me think of the people who I’d seen whilst there, the man who served us pizza, the person that checked our tickets. What Come From Away does is to celebrate the people we, for obvious reasons, may not have been focused on at that time.
Come From Away tells the incredible true story of how the residents of Gander, Newfoundland welcomed the 7,000 passengers of planes from around the world, due to the American air space being closed. Cultures clashed, and nerves ran high, but as uneasiness turned into trust, music soared into the night and gratitude grew into enduring friendships.
What makes this show for me is that it’s real, the people it’s about have feelings and memories, and it is sympathetic to it all. While the subject may cause you concern, fear not because this is the best feel-good life-affirming show I think I have ever seen. ‘The Islanders’ restore your faith in human nature, their kindness and endless generosity renews your belief that good people do still exist. Of course the cast is outstanding and it really is an ensemble piece with most playing multiple roles. Its score consisting of Irish folk music stays with you for days, even more so if you have it on repeat like I currently do.
Rachel Tucker, Jenna Boyd, Helen Hobson, Cat Simmons, Robert Hands and Clive Carter all have been perfectly cast. They all illustrate effortlessly why they are at the top of their careers. But to reiterate every person on that stage should not go without mention. Superbly directed by Christopher Ashley, their movement totally in tune and in harmony with each other and the music.
This is a celebration of spirit, resilience and good will to all. It really is the most heartwarming of shows. I predict you will laugh and you will cry, some will be sad tears, others will be joyous. I recommend if you see one show this year make it Come From Away it is truly special. Thank you London Box Office and thank you to all cast and creatives for bringing one of the best productions I have ever seen to the UK.
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