Once – Theatre Review


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.

Once the Musical – Exclusive Video


I was very excited to be invited to a social media call for the new West End musical Once on Monday. I am all to familiar with over-zealous ushers who will scold you the moment you so much as look at your camera when inside a theatre’s hallowed walls so it was a bizarre experience to be invited to the Phoenix Theatre to film and photograph the cast of Once perform three songs from the show.

Based on the hugely popular independent, and Best-Original-Song-Oscar-winning, film Once from 2007 the musical is more an intimate play with some songs than a high-kicking jazz-hand-waving musical. The show stars Zrinka Cvitešic and Declan Bennett as Girl and Guy respectively and you can watch the pair performing When Your Mind’s Made Up and Falling Slowly below. There is also a clip of the cast performing an instrumental number The North Strand which was filmed before I managed to sort the focus on my camera out. How embarrassing:

I am seeing the full show tonight so a review is on its way. Once is on at the Phoenix Theatre and tickets can be bought online.