Judge Dunne imposes a news blackout on a crush which killed 173 people sheltering in Bethnal Green Underground Station during WW2. Eric, a journalist, Mabel, orphaned by the accident, and witnesses protest (‘No Other Word For It’). Pre-tragedy life is seen through the eyes of commuters and platform shelterers (‘Eastbound’). Mabel’s father, David, suffering from PTSD from WW1 arrives late to the shelter, drunk (‘Into the Dark’) but is comforted by his wife, Paula. A station worker express concern to the Station Warden, Triggle, about the stairwell (‘Central Line Blues’). An inspection team dismisses them (‘Inspection Song’). Triggle shares his recurring nightmare of a crush on the stairwell (‘The Premonition’).
Locals clear up after the crush. Mabel and David collect Paula’s belongings, including her red coat, symbolically hung up in her memory. (‘Inside my Heart’). Intimidated by a bowler-hatter govt official (‘Forget It, Move On’), David descends into an alcoholic stupor. He reprimands Mabel for her performance in court and insists she gets a job. She reluctantly starts work at a factory. Workers fantasise about living the high life (‘Keep on Dreamin’). Mabel meets Esther and they resolve to find the truth (‘Starting Today’).
Prompted by a sinister government official (Fake News’), David tries to persuade Mabel to stop asking questions. She refuses and, along with Esther, visits the pub where Eric has been questioning witnesses (‘Last Orders’). Two government officials threaten Eric (‘Fake News’). In his office, Eric reluctantly follows their instructions. Mabel and Esther, supported by other witnesses, persuade him to change course. (‘The Truth Stops Here’).
As their relationship begins to grow, Mabel and Eric are mocked by the govt officials (‘Prologue/Fake News’) but agree that the truth must out (‘Centre Stage’). As more government officials hover, (‘Fake News’) David reminisces about his wife. (‘Inside My Heart - Reprise’). Furious that the government is being blamed for the disaster (‘It’s a Disaster’), the Home Secretary meets his Enforcers. One of them suggests they blame the Jews (‘Fake News’). Factory girls undergo gasmask training (‘There’s Nothing Like The Gas’). Triggle reveals that the baby boy was rescued by a lady wearing the red coat, sacrificing herself for him during the crush (‘A Miracle You Can Believe’). As Esther enters unseen, she realises that lady was Paula. Officials attempt to block Esther from entering the newspaper office but she forces her way past, revealing the truth revealing the truth about Paula to Eric (‘The Truth Starts Here’), adding a new front page devoted to her memory.
Morrison is relieved that Eric’s newspaper leads with Paula’s story rather than the disaster and resolves to bury the facts. (‘The Official Secrets Act’). Commuters congratulate a bemused Mabel. David, Eric and Esther arrive, bringing Paula’s red coat with them. Mabel leads the cast down the station steps (‘19 Steps’) and embraces Eric (‘Centre Stage – Finale).