Pros: The sensational music, the voice of Emma Lucia, everybody onstage, the stage.
Cons: There was an empty seat in front of me, meaning someone wasted a seat.
The story is simple: Girl sees Guy busking on the street, loves his music. Guy is on the brink of giving up said music as he’s mourning his lost love/muse. Girl sets about setting Guy’s heart back on track to his music and his woman. Once the musical is based on the 2007 film of the same name directed by John Carney, the musical adaptation of which hit the West End in 2011. Now, a new creative team and cast present it at the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch.
It is so very worth your time.
Libby Watson’s set is gorgeous; the inside of a Dublin pub which doubles as Girl’s home and triples as Guy’s flat/shop. The similarity between a classic pub and a living room is surely enough to make anyone feel instantly at home when they enter the auditorium. The ensemble of actor-musicians perform all the songs and the acoustics of the theatre are fantastic, the sound fills the auditorium without bleeding the ears. Emanating warmth and energy, the cast seem bonded in the way that making music together bonds people, and boy does the music bond the audience. All musical performance stems from the action and never feels forced but an organic part of the story, allowing the play to move naturally between action and music.
Initially I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it is that makes the show so emotional, but there is something about Once that clearly touches people. I can only conclude that it’s because it is the love story that isn’t, which is perhaps a more common experience than the love story that is. Not everyone is lucky enough to have had someone they love love them in return; but who is there who can fail to feel for a love that doesn’t quite materialise? Is there anyone over the age of twelve who hasn’t been there?
Once is ultimately about a couple of nice people who do some nice things for each other before going their separate ways. Stories such as this are rare, perhaps because on paper they seem to offer little. But the massive appeal of Once is it’s ordinariness. None of the characters are out to impress, they’re trying to find their happy amongst their responsibilities, and happy doesn’t always manifest as perfectly as we imagined. The standing ovation proves there aren’t too many people who don’t identify with that.
Music and Lyrics: Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová
Director: Peter Rowe
Designer: Libby Watson
Musical Director: Ben Goddard
Booking link: https://www.queens-theatre.co.uk/whats-on/show/once/
Booking until: 20th October 2018