08th Aug2013

Once – Theatre

by timbaros


The film Once was made for a paltry $100,000 in 2007 and grossed over $15 million. The stars were nobodies, non—professional actors who also happened to be singer—songwriters. One song from the film, Falling Slowly, went on to win the Academy Award for Best Original Song.

Once has now been reincarnated in the form of a musical and is currently playing at the Phoenix Theatre in London’s West End.

It’s a very simple story of a romance between two songwriters — Guy (played to perfection by Declan Bennett) and Girl (newcomer Zrinka Cvitesic) — the main characters don’t have names — who meet and slowly fall in love, with circumstances that prevent them from taking it any further.

The Girl, who happens to be Czech, meets the Guy, who happens to be a busker, on a street corner singing his own songs. He is also a Hoover repairman, and she needs her Hoover fixed.

This is the match that is lit that starts the spark between them. And while the Guy feels like he has no career in music, especially after his girlfriend moves to New York, the Girl truly believes in his talent and pushes him to record a demo to send to record companies.

The Girl, you can tell, is slowly falling for him. However, she too has a partner, a husband who is back in their home country. She also has a daughter and they both live with her very stern mother.

The Guy starts making moves on her and there is a feeling in the air that makes their interest in each other real, so real that, by end of the show when are singing Falling Slowly, it is a very emotional as well as a very memorable moment.

The songs, written by the stars of the film, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, are memorable and heartfelt. While some of the songs are fine, a few of the others will stay with you for a very long time, especially Falling Slowly.

The set, meanwhile, is very simple. It is a bar. There is no change of the actual set and no heavy machinery to move around. Also, the musicians do double duty and act in the show as well, all doing a fine job and missing neither a beat nor their marks.

Bennett and Cvitesic are very good at acting the roles and also very, very good at singing them as well. Bennett in particular has a raw, raspy, sexy voice, while Cvitesic’s voice is soft and sweet.

I enjoyed Once so much that right after the show finished I wanted to see it again the next night. It’s a show that does not need the razzle dazzle that most other West End productions offer: it is perfect the way it is.

Go and see it, at least once.

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