London production of Once opens to four & five star reviews

London production of Once opens to four & five star reviews

Updated On: May 1, 2018
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    In its relatively short history, ONCE has been full of surprises. The 2006 film that started it all, first made in Dublin on a shoestring budget, went on to win the Oscar for Best Song. Proving more than just a one-off, ONCE was adapted for the Broadway stage and went on to win eight 2012 Tony Awards, including Best New Musical. Was there still something left to surprise and charm the West End? The reviews are in and the answer has been a resounding ‘Yes’!

    ONCE received FIVE STARS from the Sunday Express, and FOUR STARS from The Times, Evening Standard, Guardian, Independent, Financial Times, Metro, The Daily Mail, Sunday Times, Daily Express and The Mail on Sunday.

    All the critics took a shine to ONCE's unique pre-show ambiance. True to its 'typical Irish pub' setting, theatregoers are invited for a tipple on stage while cast members mingle amidst the audience, busking and showcasing their own musical talents.

    Sarah Hemming of the Financial Times noted, “It creates a convivial mood and, by embracing the audience in the enthusiasm for music, sets the tone for what is to come. John Tiffany's staging (of what started out as a low-budget film, written and directed by John Carney and featuring the music of its stars Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová) segues seamlessly from the prelude into the action, in which the story seems to grow out of the music, rather than the other way round.”

    There's nothing conventional or mundane about this typical ‘Guy-meets-Girl’ scenario. Declan Bennett and Zrinka Cvitešic brilliantly capture the sense of longing and lingering what-ifs? Henry Hitchings of the Evening Standard noted, “ONCE is different from most other musicals: quiet, wistful, tender. It has a modesty that’s at odds with the West End's customary excess. [It] has a delicate soulfulness and a truthful charm.”

    The Guardian's Michael Billington said, “[ONCE] owes its success not just to its versatile performers but to the quiet brilliance of John Tiffany's direction and Bob Crowley's design.”

    He also pointed to the production's multi-talented ensemble of actor-musicians who, “effortlessly become characters in the story with striking contributions from Michael O'Connor as Guy's ruminative dad, Jez Unwin as a musical bank-manager and Flora Spencer-Longhurst as a bouncing Czech.” Billington noted, “I loved the moment when Guy announces to a group of Dublin drinkers: "This is a song I wrote", to which the only response is a cynical: "Aw, fuck.”

    Paul Taylor of The Independent praised the company's, “wonderful instrumental playing, comic characterisations and supple stylised movement [making] it well worth giving ONCE the once-over.”

    Check it out for yourself at London's Phoenix Theatre and book your ONCE tickets today!