Tuesday 21 February 2017

Review: Once, the musical - an intimate, simple story with moments of great humour

Published 15/07/2015 | 10:21

Charming: Tom Parsons as 'Guy' and Megan Riordan as 'Girls' in Once
Charming: Tom Parsons as 'Guy' and Megan Riordan as 'Girls' in Once

Once, the musical - adapted from the John Carney film of the same name - is a global phenomenon whose reach has extended to South Korea as well as Broadway and the West End.

  • Go To

It had a limited two-week run in the city it’s set, Dublin, in 2013, but that was essentially a warm-up for London; this is a proper six-week residency.

It’s all a far cry from the big-budget, bells and whistles spectaculars that usually vie for attention.

Instead, it’s intimate, simple story featuring 12 actors who provide all the music and movement too. Tom Parsons plays a struggling, down-on-his luck busker whose world is changed by an encounter with a spirited Czech musician (Megan Riordan).

Tom Parsons as Guy and Megan Riordan as Girl - 'As an emigrant with a deep passion for Irish music and culture, the American actress “fell in love” with the musical Once the moment the script landed at her door' (Photo by Matt Crockett)
Tom Parsons as Guy and Megan Riordan as Girl - 'As an emigrant with a deep passion for Irish music and culture, the American actress “fell in love” with the musical Once the moment the script landed at her door' (Photo by Matt Crockett)

Enda Walsh’s adaptation develops what was quite a slight story in the movie and it’s shot through with moments of great humour - not least a scene featuring Girl’s family and their obsession with Fair City.

Riordan gives a delightful performance, not far off the brilliance Zrinka Cviteši brought to the role in 2013 (she would go on to win a Laurence Olivier award for the West End production), while Parsons displays a certain kooky charm as the shy and awkward Guy even though the English actor’s Dublin accent is, frankly, all over the place.

The legendary Olympia Theatre barmaid Maureen Grant leads a jam at the piano with the cast of Once to promote the launch of the Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova show, which starts its Dublin run in July. The cast members are Tom Parsons, Rickie O’Neill, Dylan Reid, Bill Murphy, Lisa Fox, Bob Kelly, Sandra O’Callaghan, Megan O’Riordan and Phelim Drew
The legendary Olympia Theatre barmaid Maureen Grant leads a jam at the piano with the cast of Once to promote the launch of the Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova show, which starts its Dublin run in July. The cast members are Tom Parsons, Rickie O’Neill, Dylan Reid, Bill Murphy, Lisa Fox, Bob Kelly, Sandra O’Callaghan, Megan O’Riordan and Phelim Drew

A universal story it may be, but as the story is rooted in Ireland his inability to nail an authentic patois is jarring, especially in its home town.

Elsewhere, Phelim Drew really revels in his role as the belligerent, but kind-hearted Billy, throwing himself into a visceral part with abandon, and Jamie Cameron generates lots of laughs as the hapless bank manager who also dreams of being a working musician.

The songs, originally written by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova - who starred in the film - remain a big part of the draw for Once and are delivered faithfully, but not always beautifully.

Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova won at the Oscars
Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova won at the Oscars
Glen Hansard in John Carney's Once

Online Editors

Read More

Promoted articles

Editors Choice

Also in Entertainment