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Come From Away. Tickets from just £20.

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    With a glowing 3⋆ star review in The Week (02 March issue) and tickets from just £20, make sure you don't miss this “irresistible and inspiring” show. Read our full review below. 

    Playwrights: Irene Sankoff and David Hein. Director: Christopher Ashley 
    Phoenix Theatre, London WC2. Until 15 February 2020
    Running time: 1hr 40mins

    ⋆⋆⋆ (Rated out of 4)

    Buy your tickets online now, or call us on 0207 492 9948.

    “A feel-good 9/11 musical?” Really? Could that ever be a good idea? As it happens, the answer is a resounding yes, said Dominic Maxwell in The Times. This “irresistible and inspiring” piece by Irene Sankoff and David Hein – an award-winning hit on Broadway – tells the story of the extraordinary week in September 2001 when the town of Gander in Newfoundland played host to some 7,000 air passengers from 38 flights diverted in response to the terror attacks on New York. It’s a set-up that could “easily turn sappy”, yet it takes “all of ten seconds” to be enveloped in its “generous embrace”. And there you stay for the next 100 minutes, “laughing, tapping your foot, wiping away tears, feeling good about humanity – without ever feeling you’re just being sold gloopy musical-theatre good cheer”. It’s an “evening that, frankly, gets everything right”. I was still “standing and cheering on the train home”.

    Cynics may scoff (and have) at the “feel-good factor” that emerges out of the contrast between the shock and grief of 9/11 and the grace and generosity with which the stranded passengers were met in Canada, said Matt Wolf on The Arts Desk. But if so, they fail to appreciate the show’s “canny portrait of a ready and unselfconscious empathy”, an empathy that transcends the specific trauma of 9/11 and manifests itself with reassuring regularity in today’s fractured world. Come From Away pulls at the heartstrings, yes, but the “tears are fully earned”.

    There is much to enjoy here, said Michael Billington in The Guardian, from the excellent performances of the 12-strong cast, notably Rachel Tucker as a trailblazing female pilot, and Robert Hands and Helen Hobson as the “loners who find love”, and the engaging, folk-rocky songs. Christopher Ashley’s staging is also first-rate. Yet for all that, I “found something bludgeoning” about the show’s “relentless celebration of civic virtue” and yearned for more dramatic heft. The individual stories do feel somewhat underexplored, agreed Sarah Hemming in the FT – as does the “long, dark shadow” of 9/11 itself. But even so, this is still a “moving, irresistible” gem.

    Buy your tickets online now, or call us on 0207 492 9948.

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