REVIEW: ‘Once’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, February 2020

 

Whatever your current relationship status is, winsome musical Once appealingly arranges all the right notes to remind you of everyday romance.

The show, currently engaged in its first major UK tour, is based on Irish writer-director John Carney’s critically acclaimed 2007 micro-budget indie film.

A folk-rock fairy tale, Carney’s super simple story focuses on the unlikely relationship between a heartbroken Dublin busker and a young Czech single mother. Their names are never revealed but these two unassuming characters are united by an overwhelming passion for music. They click personally and professionally, ultimately restoring each other’s faith in the power of love.

Years ago, an editor who knows her rock from her roll and was hooked on the Once soundtrack lent me the DVD. Shot in a casual, mock-documentary style, with all the heartfelt music played in situ, the film was truthful and tuneful. The cash-strapped but resolute characters, homespun quality and evocative soundtrack created a genuinely uplifting viewing experience.

It felt very real. Candid. I watched that DVD just the one time but Once seen, never forgotten. It left a lasting impression. So much so, I wondered whether this straightforward — albeit spellbinding — screenplay would adapt to the stage.

Short answer? It does.

 

Once the musical. Emma Lucia as Girl and Daniel Healy as Guy.

 

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