Never in my life have I wanted to kiss a freshly caught cod but I wanted nothing more when I was in the audience at Come From Away. If you’ve not yet seen this award-winning Broadway transfer that’ll sound utterly bizarre, but once you’re in that theatre you’ll be dying to become an Islander too.
Come From Away tells a remarkable true story of generosity and kindness in the midst of terror. The small town of Gander was one of many in Newfoundland that opened their arms to welcome thousands of people following the tragic events of 9/11. In a time of uncertainty and fear, the people of Newfoundland showed extraordinary generosity to the Come From Aways who arrived unexpectedly off 38 diverted transatlantic flights. Some of the many stories that formed over the next 5 days are lovingly retold in this groundbreaking new musical by Irene Sankoff & David Hein. Their writing has a powerful ability to thrust audiences through a catalogue of emotions from hysterics to heartache. Overall though, this untold story is wonderfully heartwarming and feels more important than ever in the current political climate. A stunning reminder that ‘because we come from everywhere, we all come from away’.
Simplicity can be incredibly powerful and that is exactly how I’d describe the creative aspects of this production. That’s not to say that they’re basic – every aspect of this musical is impeccably done. The stars appearing in the panelled backdrop, the world map engraved on the floor, the flawless synchronisation, intricate choreography and even the precise movement of the chairs and costume changes – the details are so delicate that individually they go might unnoticed but together they create an overwhelmingly immersive piece. Nothing has been missed. Every feature is perfectly planned and executed – it’s flawless. This simplicity forces the audience to focus wholly on the profound story of Come From Away and this spectacular cast provide a masterclass in storytelling.
Part of the beauty of this piece is the togetherness of the team on stage. It is impossible to single out specific cast members as ‘stand outs’ as that would be doing the rest a disservice. Every single person is astonishingly talented and has their time to shine – including the brilliant band. The way everyone plays an equally important role is particularly apt when telling such a story of love and inclusion. The community that brought this story to life in 2001 is reflected beautifully by the incredible community onstage. Together they project an infectious joy that makes you feel like you’re part of something really very special.
Come From Away has the ability to ignite a fire in you so powerful it remains long after you’ve left the theatre. It is easily the most thought-provoking and moving piece of theatre I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing. It exemplifies a spirit of compassion and kindness; sweeping you up into this astonishing amalgamation of true stories – some so wonderful you can hardly believe they’re true.
‘We are here, at the start of a moment’ – I hope we are at the start of a long and prosperous life for this extraordinary piece of theatre here in London.
Stop the world, Seize the moment and buy your tickets right now.
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*Production Images by Come From Away UK