Come From Away @Phoenix Theatre

03.10.19

Come From Away is the true story of how a town called Gander in the province of Newfoundland (Canada) coped with almost doubling in population as 38 flights were diverted flights there during 9/11. It is a commentary on both isolation and unity, tragedy and strength.

The most significant point to make is that it is a musical masterpiece with a running time of just under two hours it has no pauses in music, not even an interval. The entire piece is accompanied by a live band who at times even form part of the scenes. The cast were astounding as they sang and danced resiliently throughout. Multi-role play forms a major component of the show as it allows us to get a sense of the 7,000 stranded passengers while each cast member has a main character including the town mayor, a mother of a firefighter in New York and a female pilot.

However, while it is undoubtedly an incredible show, two factors left me resisting it.

Structure/ Pace- I don’t doubt that this in part stemmed from my own greed at missing out on that all too essential overpriced interval ice cream but I found the absence of two acts in a musical jarring. I fully understand the choice- it would have interrupted the pace which kept us on our toes throughout. There was no obvious place to pause nor was there quite the length required for two acts. However, this pace I found a bit much to keep up with and also prevented us from fully emotionally investing in the character’s plight. The stillest moment in the performance came naturally from the attack, which provided real poignancy but I would’ve liked longer periods of slow. Which brings me on to my second complaint…

The show lacked an obvious protagonist. We are so busy sharing in the plight of all that we have no single person we can invest in emotionally. Which naturally left me walking away feeling as though I hadn’t got the emotional investment I thought I would.

In other words as my moaning suggests, this musical is one which works outside of the bounds of the conventional structure. However, I’m not sure I can take issue with it providing something a little different when it is still an entertaining and incredibly tight production. I believe the style had its drawbacks but it also made it the most interesting musical I have ever seen.

8.5/10

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