April 4, 2014  //  By:   //  Musicals, Reviews  //  Comments are off

Once, a six time nominated musical is currently playing at the Phoenix Theatre in London’s West End with a new cast featuring Arthur Darvill and Zrinka Cvitesic.

Once is a love story not only between a man and woman but between the soul and music. This production is full of Irish charm and wit and has the audience laughing and crying (often within moments of each other).

Darvill, Cvitesic and the music all take centre stage and don’t fail to impress as we follow this tender loving romance. We follow each character on their heartfelt journey and as an audience, can’t help but fall in love with the story and the music. Through love, support and a chance encounter, a wonderful love story blossoms.

The simple set and staging only enhances the intimate nature of the piece. The audience are made to feel part of the culture by being able to purchase drinks at the beginning and at the interval from the bar on stage. This really does feel like a traditional Irish pub with all its charm and rich Celtic heritage.

Zrinka Cvitesic brings a fantastic master class in comedy with a soft emotional edge that leaves the audience drawn into her story. Darvill, who has recently completed a run in the Broadway production of Once, has a natural ease on stage with a strong empowered voice and delivers a passionate and intense performance.

The ensemble bring a unique element to the production with musical versatility and finesse. The talent within this cast is outstanding and the inter changing of instruments is a wonder to watch. Where this production excels to a phenomenal level is when each individual voice blends to create the most beautiful choral echo that sounds heavenly.

A romantic and heart breaking story that steps away from clichés and delivers a true, honest and modern day portrayal of love with all its wonderful highs and emotional lows. To applaud at points, although very much deserved, feels wrong as if we interrupt the ‘humanity’ of the piece.

Once is on the right side of kitsch and is a production of an intimate nature and a piece that has real heart. What this production may lack in spectacle it more than makes up for with heart. If you want to go to a production that is both moving and engaging then this unique piece of theatre will not fail to disappoint.


Once is taking bookings at the Phoenix Theatre until 4th July 2015. Click here for tickets.

Reviewed by Matthew Wren