Once review - April 2014

Once, twice three times a winner!

There is no shame in admitting that I have seen Once not once, not twice but thrice! On third viewing I have decided it is officially my favourite musical on the West End. Once has it ALL; heart, soul, beauty, comedy and perfect, perfect music. I am really not one to gush, but this show is unmissable.

Once is a classic tale of Guy meets Girl and the beauty of this show is that it accepts that love is no fairy-tale and truly expresses that life is complicated. Once is like a beautifully sung reality check that still somehow generates a feeling of hope and inspiration.

My personal experience of Once is that it is like a fine wine, it has somewhat matured with age. A year on from opening, and the show has lost any trace of awkwardness it may have originally had and has truly found its feet to become a major contender for the Olivier Award for Best New Musical.

Zrinka Civitesic continues to dazzle as Girl, a beautifully tragic Czech singleton, who, like Guy, is searching for more in life. Zrinka claimed in an interview with us last year that she “is not a singer,” but she disproves herself as she captures the audience’s hearts along with their attention during solo numbers such as “If You Want Me.” Not to flog the Olivier horse, but I will be seriously outraged if this acting powerhouse doesn’t get the reward she deserves in the Best Actress category!

New “Guy” on the block, Arthur Darvill, brings real electricity to the stage. Whilst his Irish accent may not be quite as convincing as his predecessors, his unhindered passion and pure musical talent make him a rare performing gem. The chemistry he managed to generate with Civitesic was unreal. I rarely truly believe in stage relationships, but it is a testimony to the actors that I was thoroughly convinced and sobbing at the end of the show.

Do not get me wrong, this IS NOT a two man show. ALL of the other cast members together with Darvill and Civitesic make this show what it is. The musical talent onstage is unbelievable; all voices together in the acapella reprise of Gold manged to cast an unforgettable spell over the audience.

I am so glad to see that Jez Unwin remains in the show as the goodhearted banker, who is still one of my favourite characters in the show, along with Mathew Hamper who plays Czech, Andre. In fact Hamper was a true, stand out, delight, who’s life aspirations and unwavering determination tugged the hardest at my heart stings.

I could go on forever about how much I loved the show; the beautiful lighting and set, the thought provoking movement, the musical magic…but really, the best I advice I can offer is SEE THIS SHOW.

The night I saw Once the whole theatre were on their feet applauding this true masterpiece. I am also willing to bet there wasn’t a dry eye in the house…Once will never be enough for me.

3 April 2014, Phoenix Theatre