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Come From Away

5
Touring production seen at the Theatre Royal Plymouth
By Robert Iles - 10th Apr 2024

Saw this in London in 2019 and was blown away and this touring version did not disappoint!

This is the story of Gander, a Newfoundland town and old (vast) airport that became an important side story in the 9/11 attacks. When the first plane went into the twin towers, the USA closed its airspace and planes already in the air were diverted away - 38 of them with 6,500 people on board (including a BA steward friend of ours) were diverted to Gander. The town, with less than 10,000 permanent residents, had almost no warning to handle, house, feed and care for their 'guests' and the animals on board some planes - yet they managed it, providing care and support for days until the planes could leave again.

This is an hugely uplifting story of the good that is in people, of a community coming together in a crisis to care for strangers. This is not the tale of 9/11 but the tale of this small community's part in handling their own part. It is a tale full of humanity, humour and pathos - you'll laugh with a lump in your throat.

A pure ensemble piece with dialogue that manages to inform without becoming "documentary" and carries you along at speed. The songs are managed beautifully and the Newfoundland inspired dancing and live music are a delight. The movement of the cast is so well choreographed that subtle, but perfectly synchronised, movements imply and indicate everything we need without set changes - planes, buses, cars, bars, mountains, all are indicated quickly, efficiently and effectively by this disciplined company. It is almost a shame that the show is quite short (no interval) as I could happily have watched them for much longer!

A standing ovation is not unusual, but one that is instant and 100% of the audience is - they got it, and thunderous applause too. What is very unusual, almost unique, is the huge roar of appreciation that went up from the whole audience as they rose and was repeated for the musicians as they gave us a reprise at the end.

Beautiful theatre.


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