Once, Phoenix Theatre

Once is a different kind of musical, a tender and believable love story, with a heartbreaking and surprising conclusion. For those recently out of a relationship I wouldn’t recommend buying a ticket, unless you have your mummy nearby to give you a big hug afterwards.

This new show, based on the Academy award-winning film, was a hit on Broadway, but sadly hasn’t received as electric response here in the UK… overshadowed by jollier bestsellers – Mormon and Matilda seem to be stealing all the keen audiences. However I think, as a less dramatic but enjoyable alternative, Once is a good choice. A select team of talented musicians play and sing their way through the score and all of the characters are patiently on stage for the majority of the show.

A heartbroken Irish musician is adopted by a bored but inquisitive Czech girl who makes it her mission to broadcast his music-making to the world. They subsequently fall in love, but less conventionally don’t kiss or act on their new found fondness for each other as they are both loyal to previous lovers. It is frustrating and strange to watch as an onlooker. The music is light, folky and filled with melancholy… quite repetitive at times but pleasant nonetheless. I was very impressed with the 5 star acting, dancing, singing and playing that the strong cast exhibit, especially the lead roles, who seemed genuinely quite upset themselves by the final heart-wrenching moments of the musical.

Once is a heartfelt and honest piece of theatre, simple yet effective. I must admit my attention did occasionally wander, especially as I couldn’t help but fidget in the stuffy theatre, but on the whole it is a lovely piece with a message that will stay with you long after you have left the theatre.

ps. The luxury ice-creams (especially Eton Mess flavour) are well worth forking out for in the interval.

More information and book online here.