Once**** (Phoenix Theatre, 26 April 2013)

Posted: April 27, 2013 in Theatre

photo-85Oscar winning film, now Tony winning musical, this small scale Irish love story punches well above its weight. The single set is a Dublin bar, with a mirror at the back which reflects the audience and it even serves as a real bar with the audience being allowed on stage for interval drinks. The two main characters are an Irish guy (Declan Bennett), a singer/songwriter who is down on his luck and a Czech girl (Zrinka Cvitesic) who helps him to regain his confidence; both performers are excellent as is the supporting cast, playing characters more fleshed out than in the film. The Irish folk/rock songs are tremendous and beautifully performed. This show scores by being different, deftly sidestepping all the familiar cliches of musical theatre and of romantic drama. It is a little slow to get going and, occasionally it becomes so laid back that it almost grinds to a halt, but it has real warmth and charm throughout and it thoroughly deserves the plaudits it has received.

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