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Come From Away - musical review


The Newfoundland locals are here to welcome you to the Rock with open arms, whatever the circumstances: the door's always open, kettle on, and fish with cheese for dinner. Now cemented as an award-winning global success, Come From Away has set out on a UK tour to ensure even more get to hear the true stories of the plane people and those who were granted the mission of accommodating them.

When faced with the utmost unforeseen tragedy, the US airspace closed for the first time in history after the 9/11 attacks, diverting 38 flights to a small town called Gander. Irene Sankoff and David Hein's writing displays the kindness and gratitude received by a group who landed there, alongside the devastation caused by such an earth-shattering event. Full of heart and hope, the show celebrates humanity in the face of ultimate adversity.

Featuring an extremely talented cast, they harmoniously each become a whole range of characters, though this does not falter with the connection between the audience and those we grow to adore as they discover the impact of the reasons they've been stranded in North Canada. In the style of a true emotional rollercoaster, the fear, relief and everything in between is captured in moving nuances with touches of intricately placed humour to balance the mix of emotions: it’ll make you laugh and cry… sometimes even at the same time. Their unique experiences collide with the one they now share, which will forever shape them, similarly, nobody will forget seeing this retelling.

This is your captain speaking - Sara Poyzer takes on the role of trailblazing pioneer pilot, Beverley Bass, the first female to fly as captain for a commercial American Airlines plane. She also plays Annette, meanwhile, Amanda Henderson is Beulah, the gentle teacher who does a great deal of organising the 7000 new arrivals. Rosie Glossop is Bonnie, the animal-loving rescuer, as Natasha J Barnes becomes Janice, the reporter on her first day- a big one for news! Kevin T and Kevin J are a couple played by Mark Dugdale and Jamal Zulfiqar respectively, with the latter additionally playing Ali, an important character in the unison of those involved, despite possible language or culture barriers, as well as highlighting the prevalence of religious beliefs and subsequent racism alongside. Daniel Crowder is Nick and Kirsty Hoiles, Diane; both ending the trip with much more than was originally planned. Completing the company, Oliver Jacobson plays policeman Oz, Dale Mathurin as Bob, Nicholas Pound as Claude the mayor(s), and Bree Smith as worried mother, Hannah (all cast with other parts besides their principle role too).

Following Christopher Ashley's direction, an array of wooden chairs gets carefully rearranged into numerous placements to illustrate the goings on. The set, designed by Beowulf Boritt, is beautiful, so remaining the same throughout and allowing the magic to be in the movement and corresponding dialogue works well. Having a live band at either side of the stage is a blessing for the show, really pulling it together to make every element feel right.

Although it's unlikely you'd think to find the perfect placement for songs within this complex subject, they each add further depth and dimension with ease. Starting with the foot-stomping 'Welcome To The Rock', the vibe shifts with '38 Planes', as the situation becomes more apparent. '28 Hours / Wherever We Are' is a fantastic contrasting track that combines upbeat with feelings of the opposite. Later, 'Heave Away' and 'Screech In' bring some great music to accompany the traditions of becoming a Newfoundlander - would you kiss the fish? Immediately after, Sara Poyzer's impeccable solo rendition of 'Me And The Sky' pierces with its power as the audience watches in awe. The changes in atmosphere hold the audience engaged intently, demonstrating the pure control and wit of the script. 'Stop The World' is a poignant reminder of making memories, and the production continues with a range in the score to suit the whirlwind of emotions.

In just 100 minutes, you'll have seen a piece so memorable and impactful, yet also such a feat of theatre. Come From Away is a glorious display of compassion, where the people of Gander gave the best they had in unimaginable times - a narrative never to stop being told.


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