• Amy Toledano

Once presented by Adam Spiegel and Robert Bartner

Photo courtesy of Mark Senior

What is it?

A revival of the 2011 Off Broadway Musical, based on the film of the same name.

What is it all about?

A nameless singer-songwriter (Daniel Healy) stands on a quiet street and performs his final song to no one in particular. Nearby, a girl (Emma Lucia) watches on, and connects to the raw and wounded energy of his lament. Brought together by music and a broken Hoover, Guy and Girl spend the next five days redefining what it is to be in love, what it means to create beautiful music, and the power it has to change lives.

How did it make me feel?

A love letter to romantic Dublin, this folk-inspired musical brings to life the importance of music in a lonely city.

The chemistry between the lead actors is tender and palpable throughout, and draws on truths about love that are often overlooked in musical theatre, instead proving that sometimes life does not go the way we want it to, and things can't be exactly as we want them to be.

The ensemble of muso/actors make this show what it is. The score by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova is infused with gorgeous harmonies and tones that draw the raw energy from everyone performing it.

The beauty of the show is that it allows us to be immersed in a world that is so familiar and natural, which is often the opposite in musical theatre. Healy brings a gruff and subtle performance to Guy, juxtaposing Lucia's energy as Girl.

A strange choice however, is to have much of the Czech dialogue spoken in English, with Czech captions showing above them. This made many of the Czech characters seem two-dimensional and took away from the natural and powerful use of language in the piece. It also fed into stereotypes, and felt as if there was a lack of care with these characters, which was sad as we so want to connect with them as people, not as caricatures.

The energy throughout however, particularly throughout the pub scenes is second to none, as the wall of sound envelops the audience and keeps them engaged.

A stunning moment, is 'Gold Reprise' in which the company sing a haunting and intimate version of the original song.

The direction is clever and relaxed, simplifying the way the cast move around the stage, and injecting a reverence to the overall tone of the piece.

Where is it playing?

Before it heads off on its national tour, the show is being performed at the newly refurbished Fairfield Halls, in their 800 seater Ashcroft Playhouse.

Anything else?

The absolute star of this show is in the music, and the way it weaves its way around you, pulling you in and keeping you in the heart of Dublin and the people who inhabit it.

Amy x

Once is playing at Fairfield Halls until the 11th January 2020.

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