Tag Archives: Alexander McMorran

Come From Away

Come From Away
★★★★★

Phoenix Theatre

Come From Away

Come From Away

Phoenix Theatre

Reviewed – 18th February 2019

★★★★★

 

“truly unique and remarkable”

 

Telling the true story of what happened to the small town of Gander, Newfoundland in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Come From Away finally receives its triumphant UK premiere. 

The show, with book, music and lyrics by Irene Sankoff and David Hein was first produced in Ontario in 2013 and has since had record breaking runs in San Francisco, Seattle, Washington and Toronto. Opening on Broadway in 2017 it is now the longest running Canadian musical there and it’s not difficult to see why.

September 11th 2001, for reasons at first unknown to those in the sky, American airspace is suddenly closed to all traffic. Planes are diverted with thirty eight of them having to land at Gander Airport, more used to seeing no more than half a dozen landings a day. With the population of the town almost doubling within a few hours, every resident springs into action to help out in whatever way they can.

An outstanding ensemble cast of twelve play the townsfolk, passengers and crew. With one hundred minutes continuously onstage they effortlessly deliver some challenging songs in a variety of styles and perform clever choreography (Kelly Devine) whilst simultaneously flitting between several characters.

With a visually stunning, yet minimal set design (Beowulf Boritt) we’re transported from jumbo jet to bar, Dover Fault to cargo hold, all with little more than a dozen chairs, a few tables and some impressive lighting (Howell Binkley).

The phrase ‘rollercoaster of emotion’ is often overused, but for once it seems perfectly fitting. In Come From Away we witness love, prejudice, grief and joy – one minute the audience are laughing out loud, the next, wiping away a tear.

The devastating events of 9/11, one of the darkest moments in American history, may not initially seem like the best choice, or even an appropriate one, for a musical. But this isn’t a history lesson – the terrorist incidents themselves do not form the basis of the show, in fact they are barely directly mentioned – this is a story about kindness and the proof that evil will never succeed in breaking human spirit even in the darkest depths of adversity.

Throughout previews, the show has had standing ovations nightly – immediate ones from the whole audience. What’s more, most of the audience even remain for the play out track possibly because we get to see the hugely talented band who have spent most of the night tucked away in the wings.

A truly unique and remarkable show which I hope gets the audiences it deserves.

 

Reviewed for thespyinthestalls.com

Photography by Matthew Murphy

 


Come From Away

Phoenix Theatre until 14th September

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Chicago | ★★★★ | April 2018

 

Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com

 

Lonely Planet – 3 Stars

Lonely

Lonely Planet

Trafalgar Studios

Reviewed – 15th June 2018

★★★

“David Allen’s intricate set design results in a space that is both intimately charming and frustratingly cluttered”

 

As part of Pride in London Festival 2018, Trafalgar Studios hosts the UK premiere production of Steven Dietz’s most widely performed work, Lonely Planet. The story follows the unlikely friendship between two men, Jody and Carl, in an unidentified city in 1980s America as they struggle with the disease that is beginning to decimate their community, AIDS.

The entirety of the play takes place in Jody’s map shop, full to the brim with an array of furniture, maps (of course), and a whole host of miscellaneous items. David Allen’s intricate set design results in a space that is both intimately charming and frustratingly cluttered, beautifully projecting the key metaphors embedded within the original text.

Both Alexander McMorran (Jody) and Aaron Vodovoz (Carl) bring the unusual friendship between both characters to life with a wealth of charisma and chemistry together. Whilst the underlying story within the play takes time to unfold, McMorran and Vodovoz waste no time in establishing their characters that quickly become familiar to the audience. This, in combination with the detailed set, hooks the viewer into the text emotionally despite the lengthy plot development. Whilst taking place in the 1980s, this production of Lonely Planet strives to highlight the parallels of stigmatisation regarding AIDS both then and today.

Throughout the limited run of the show, and building-up to London Pride, a weekly Q&A session is being held straight after the show with prominent figures in the movement sharing their experiences with AIDS. The Lonely Planet Speaker Series began with Jonathan Blake, an actor, activist and one of the first people to be diagnosed with HIV in the UK. This series, sponsored by Pasante and INSTI self-test kit displays how this particular run is so much more than simply the production alone.

 

Reviewed by Claire Minnitt

Photography by Richard Hubert Smith

 


Lonely Planet

Trafalgar Studios until 7th July

 

Related
Previously reviewed at this venue
Strangers in Between | ★★★★ | January 2018
Again | ★★★ | February 2018
Good Girl | ★★★★ | March 2018

 

Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com