Guy spends his days busking on the streets of Dublin and struggles with his lack of success. A young Czech Girl watches as he reaches the end of his tether and abandons his guitar in the street. Recognizing there is something more to the story Girl stops him from leaving and slowly shifts his thinking. The two become friends and together they share the details of broken romances and unfinished songs. Their bond grows and entangles them in a mesh of displaced emotions and a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Here we are introduced to one of our leads, Stuart Ward (Guy) who delivers the first scripted song of the evening, “Leave.”
Walsh injects enough of the original filmic story structure into his sensational crowd-pleasing play to perfectly showcase the musical hits many came to hear.
The play has lost much of the film’s Irish flavour, despite its Dublin pub setting, however it is far from disappointing. “It’s not what I expected,” remarks an audience member in passing, “It’s different from the movie but I love it.”
“If You Want Me” sent chills down my spine with its haunting harmonies. The ensemble a cappella of “Gold” was sung so softly it might have been lost on a lesser group of musicians. Instead, it sounded like a hymn brilliantly articulated, crisp and clear, all voices in striking compliment to the others.
Beautifully staged on a set walled with mirrors the audience is able to reflect on events and watch the orchestration from multiple perspectives. The characters of ONCE are well developed and interesting and the dialogue is peppered with humour that stops the play from slipping too deeply into woeful reverie.
The choreography is minimal but hugely effective, and does not overshadow the actors and musicians. The transitions between scenes, the placement of subtitles, and the dual casting of musician and actor all work to move the story forward cleanly and effectively.
ONCE is a highly recommended, once in a lifetime show that runs from November 17 to 22. Check HERE for a link to tickets.