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Though in most ways this stage version of John Carney’s understated, critically acclaimed 2006 low budget film could hardly be more different from the average West End musical, it, too, has the most meagre of plots.

Adapted by Enda Walsh (whose work is usually much, much darker) it’s already been an award-winning hit on Broadway. t

The boy-meets-girl scenario, which unfolds, demands a mellow indulgence – and director John Tiffany has helpfully ensured you can grab a pre-show or interval  pint from the on-stage Dublin bar to put you in the mood.

The supporting cast of versatile actor musicians (niftily choreographed by Steven Hoggett) add humour and enormous zest with their stomping renditions on mandolin, accordion, cello, violin and drums.

At the centre, over a brief few days, a Dublin busker and a Czech immigrant mother bond (mainly through her persistence) over a faulty vacuum cleaner and a shared love of creating music.  

Zrinka Cvitesic’s piano-playing Girl (neither of the lead characters is named) is endlessly encouraging, Declan Bennett’s guitar-playing Guy is raw and disillusioned. Both have unfinished business from previous relationships hovering over them.  

But, as befits a bittersweet love story which crosses cultures with the help of song, their duets - including the Oscar-winning ”Falling Slowly” are beautifully haunting.
Phoenix Charing Cross Road, WC2H 0JP
Tube | Leicester Square 
Currently booking until 30th November  
£19.50 - £67.50

Photo: Manuel Harlan


Once - theatre review: The West End stage version of the critically-acclaimed low-budget film
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