From the glitz and glamour of the West End stage to the dark devastation of the 9/11 attack, it suffices to say that “Come from Away” had it all. I went to see it on the 5th of November at the Phoenix Theatre as a part of my drama GCSE. The Canadian musical, with book, music and lyrics by couple Irene Sankoff and David Hein, tells the true story of those who were flying on 38 planes on the day of 9/11 and were forced to land on the village of Gander, depicting the height of humankind’s capacity for kindness.

At first, telling this story in the form of a musical seemed like an unusual amalgamation but this decision was precisely from where its charm came. I was completely dazzled by its fast pace achieved by the quick seamless movements of props and costume as actors donned on new clothes and new personas. Its ensemble cast was unlike that of any musical I had ever seen before, and it definitely gave it an original, unique spin. My drama teacher, Emily Smyth, said that “It was really good for us to be able to see a clear example of Brechtian epic theatre where the audience is being guided to react to a historical event and form their own opinions.”

One of my favourite things about the musical was its versatility, and how it could successfully deliver jokes and have an upbeat, feel-good atmosphere in one moment and in the next deliver a heart wrenching piece. A song that was particularly poignant was “Me and the Sky” which is about the trailblazing pilot Beverley Bass whose optimistic view came crashing down with the twin towers. The performer, Rachel Tucker, was outstanding and had a deeply rich and powerful singing voice. She also certainly portrayed two of my favourite characters: the inspiring Beverley and the uproarious Annette who pulled out more than a few laughs from the audience.

The music was also a source of great admiration for me, with influences of country and folk music that I will hum for days to come! A line I still remember and found incredibly touching was “And that’s how we started speaking the same language,” when two passengers of different races manage to get through to each other by using the Bible. It showed that language is about more than just words, it’s about communication, understanding and a kinship between two human beings.

But perhaps what I liked most about the musical was its message of hope, and that even in the face of an event as devastating as the 9/11 attack human solidarity prevailed and that we still have the ability to unite as one force. This was something the audience adopted at the end as our clapping evolved into claps to the beat of the last song. I would definitely recommend this to all teenagers and adults in need of an evening of warmth and hope!

By Kinnary Patankar, Henrietta Barnett School