Once – Theatre Review

Once

Based on the beautiful, uplifting, heartbreaking, hearwarming indie film Once comes the ever so slightly less beautiful, uplifting, heartbreaking, heartwarming but nevertheless great (although not very indie anymore) West End production Once. Both tell the simple story of Guy, an Irish hoover repairman and musician, meets Girl, a Czech mother and musician, leading to Guy and Girl making beautiful music together.

Whereas the film is entirely based around the two main characters, the play includes a slightly larger cast who serve to both take the crucial role in performing the soundtrack to the story and to add some slightly overstated comic relief. I can understand the desire to lighten the mood in a tale that tugs at the heartstrings so but I feel some of it doesn’t quite fit with the tone of the central romantic story. The film of Once is such a small intimate piece the broader comedic moments can come across as slightly jarring.

Once - Guy and Girl

My only other criticism is that the ‘manic’ in the ‘manic pixie dream Girl’ role (Zrinka Cvitešic) is initially slightly overplayed and the coldness of the lead Guy (Declan Bennett) is perhaps a little too cold but they certainly settle down and become a lot more believable throughout the performance.

Other than these niggles the show was wonderful and maintained more intimacy than is usually possible within a West End musical. As with the film the music and songs are the real star, really emphasising the emotions of the characters. They are performed brilliantly as you can see from our Once videos. Flora Spencer-Longhurst particularly impressed (Tim) on violin.

So overall pretty excellent really. I forgot about my day-to-day worries, cried a lot, still feel slightly dazed and emotionally tired, and am looking forward to taking a small (healthy?) amount of time out wallowing over my love lost before putting on my special suit and throwing myself headlong into life.

Once is on at the Phoenix Theatre and tickets can be bought online. Go and have a laugh and a good cry.

Brothers and Payday 2 – Game Review

PAYDAY2_brothers_01

Mild Concern recently got invited by 505 games to a little press event and as a bit of a gamer, Tim invited me along for the event. Without further ado…

Brothers

Brothers didn’t really grip me. It appears to be a pretty fairytale puzzle game with an unusual control method whereby you control two characters at the same time with different analog sticks. The system was initially interesting and the director who presented a walk through and conducted the Q&A session emphasised a lot of the nice little touches in the world, particularly the way the two characters interacted with things in different ways. He also spoke about how none of the puzzles were repeated and how the diverse the worlds and puzzles were later in the game.

I felt that the main problem was that a lot of the small interactions seemed to add little to the experience and whilst diversity can be good, repetition isn’t always a bad thing. If it weren’t for repetition we’d never learn things and some of the best puzzles come from slowly layering up the concepts you’ve learnt and having to combine them in interesting ways. We didn’t really get to see a lot of the promised diversity and for a game that is story-driven, there didn’t really seem to be much of a story. Still, a demo pod in a noisy room isn’t the best place to really appreciate a game, the director had some good points that many modern games are too long and feel full of filler and the whole thing seemed quite pleasant. We’ll have to wait and see how it pans out.

Brothers is released on XBLA, PSN, Steam, and PC download in Spring 2013

payday2_logo_black

OMG GUNS! Despite the initial shock of the transition from the fairy tale to that of bank robbery and my not being massively keen on violent shooters, Payday 2 looks quite interesting. Yes it’s an FPS, Yes it’s got lots of guns and you have to shoot lots of bad guys… oh hang on – the first play through they showed us didn’t involve any shooting at all? And you’re the bad guys? Okay then. Sure, it’s multiplayer so you can try to beat all of your friends… oh – it’s co-op multiplayer? You have to help each other then? And it’s not really about shooting, it’s just about stealing? Add in some skill trees, a few randomised elements in each mission, multiple ways to play each mission based on the characters skill sets and it sounds like it could be rather good. As with most online multiplayer games, it’s going to live or die by its community but this could turn out to be worth a look.

Payday 2 is released on XBLA, PSN, and Steam in Summer 2013