COME FROM AWAY
March 28, 2017
No one who was in NYC or on airline in flight can forget the trauma that started on the morning on 9/11 and enveloped the world for months. That single act changed the lives of many for a myriad of reasons. Gambling on the current desire for inspirational stories, “Come From Away” landed on Broadway and lifted spirits.
On that fateful morning, planes carrying passengers to various ports of call were re-routed. New Brunswick Canada, now rather bare but once a major flight nexus, is suddenly called back into service. Football fields of planes suddenly land in the small town. With the arrival of the unexpected guests, the town swells to three times its number. Simple human functions—eating, sleeping, showering—must be addressed in the space of hours.
The ingenuity of people determined to be hospitable and make the travelers comfortable defies normal expectations.
Irene Sankoff and David Hein draw sympathetic characters who put aside their anxieties or prejudices to welcome distraught passengers. For too many hours, no one can really make contact with family members. Some fear for the lives of relatives who work in the Twin Towers or were flying on the same day.
What makes this production particularly appealing is the genuiness of each person’s story and nearly invisible hand of the director Christopher Ashley. In an intensely strong ensemble performance that requires everyone to assume multiple roles, the audience becomes attached to the village and the future of everyone involved.
Musically, the score weaves through the narrative naturally, pulling strong performances from the whole cast. Because much of the text is actually drawn from the letters and interviews of those who spent a memorable week in a far away land, its humanity is preserved.
Although the stories are a composite of the people who refused money for their care and feeding of the strangers, it sounds like a bedtime story that you want to hear over and over and over again.
There’s nothing icky or sugary about this story. But it does have heart and it will stick with you for a long time. Oh, be sure to pack Kleenexes.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – Celia Ipiotis