A beautiful, heartfelt story of an unlikely friendship between a Dublin busker and a Czech musician, we present five reasons why you should see Once on its current UK tour.
Before the show even begins, Once offers a unique experience and welcoming atmosphere as the audience enter the theatre. The fantastic cast made up of actor-musos (more on that later) are performing a number of joyous Irish songs as if in a local Dublin pub. I particularly enjoy ‘The Auld Triangle’ which Susannah van den Berg leads wonderfully. Also worth mentioning is the seamless transition from the lively pre-show tunes, to the haunting opener ‘Leave’, which settles the audience and paves the way for the journey of Once.
It’s surprisingly funny
When I first saw this show, I didn’t expect to laugh as much as I did. From the start there is a warm humour that feels (mostly) natural and realistic. Little giggles between the cast as they bounce off one another are enjoyable to watch, as are the jokes between Guy and Girl. From their first interaction, the pair (Daniel Healy and Emma Lucia) have an engaging relationship full of banter, sarcasm and honesty that’s endearing to watch and brings light to the sometimes deep emotional moments.
Emma Lucia’s accent
Yes, this is an unconventional reason to see a show, but I was so impressed by Emma Lucia’s excellent accent that I had to mention it. The combination of Czech with twangs of Dublin mixed in is so excellent. Emma is a magnetic performer, who we instantly warm to. The character of Girl is so optimistic that you can’t help but root for her and she brings this gleeful optimism to life fantastically.
The power of ensemble
Once is one of the most wonderfully ensemble fuelled pieces I’ve ever seen. Often the cast move like one entity, all invested in each others stories. These group transitions bring a motion to moments which could otherwise run the risk of falling flat. The reprise of ‘Gold’ is a truly exceptional moment in musical theatre, as the entire cast come together as if using one breath to sing.
The MusicalityOf course you can’t talk about Once without mentioning the music and those that perform it. The folk/rock score is what put the original film firmly on the map, with Falling Slowly becoming a staple on any musical theatre playlist. Not only is Once a love story in terms of romance, but it’s also a love letter to music, with every song carefully thought out and performed. It’s amazing to hear the folky, Irish, guitar led music, and it’s even more impressive to watch it performed live by a cast of actor-musicians. Every cast member is an incredibly talented musician and it’s sensational how they are able to tell a story and really engage the audience through music.
by Olivia Mitchell
Once is currently playing at the New Victoria Theatre until 15 February and then continues its tour