Elldrew had no idea about the musical ‘Once‘, apart from seeing the lead song performed on TV, liked it, googled the show and decided to book tickets. Whenever we venture in for some West End theatre action we do forget how much we actually enjoy it, baffled why it takes us so long between shows. But it’s very rare we take a risk on something we know nothing about…even being a multi-award winning musical we were not 100% sure, but boy are we glad we did!
You may agree that there is something spectacular about seeing a full scale theatre production; big cast, amazing sets, wow factor lighting – two hours to lose yourself in the production and ambience with your fellow punters…it sort of feels like your actually sitting inside the TV watching the antics unfold in front of your very eyes. But there is also something magical about a small ‘minimalistic’ production; one set, a handful of cast members (I think we counted 11) who are not only the actors but have a dual role as the musicians. The cast, when they are not performing on the main stage, are sitting silently on the side, in full view, or participating as the orchestra or backing vocals.
Drew assumed it had something to do with theatre size and budgets (we had seen a similar performance of ‘Sunset Boulevard’ a few years back) but as Ell rightly pointed out, this was how plays were originally performed. This type of production asks for you to use your imagination and go on a journey with the characters…you are lead by the cast with occasional lighting changes, they point you in the direction, advising if they are in a shop, or a bedroom, there are no major visual props, and in some way it’s rather fun and definitely more engaging (think back when your parents read you a story before bedtime, your imagination running wild as you battled with dragons or explored a deserted island).
Once is a musical stage adaptation based on the 2006 film of the same name. It revolves around an Irish busker ‘Guy’ who is struggling to come to terms with the break-up of his cheating girlfriend, heartbroken, he has also lost the love for music. He meets a young Czech immigrant ‘Girl’ who shows interest in his music. Her wit and straightforward talking gets the musician to open up to her. When she finds out that he works for his dad’s vacuum repair shop they strike a deal, that he will fix her broken vacuum and she will perform some of her music for him (we discover that she is also a budding musician who works in a music store), and as the characters get closer to each other, there is clearly a flirtatious bond forming.
The Girl encourages Guy to go win back his one true love. She sets the wheels in motion to hire a recording studio so he can get a demo done of his music and go after a recording contract. Where will the flirting lead between the two main characters, what lies ahead? Well we will leave that up to you to go and find out.
A love story filled with wit and humour – one minute we were crying with laughter, the other we were just crying. The story is brilliant, and the other characters you meet along the way make this a brilliantly joyous celebration of love, friends and music. Not to be missed. We give it 5 stars. We also gave it a standing ovation.
Image taken from the official Once website.