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For once, I have the privilege of sitting from a birds eye perspective of the theatre and it is a refreshing change. The audience is a little different and there are just a trifle more rustling of wrappers, mobile phones and chattering  As someone who is easily distracted, I am pleased to say none of these has any impact on me as this is an absorbing and well written musical with great music, lovingly produced and directed. The story is a rather low key affair between a girl who needed her hoover repaired and a hoover repairman masking as a talented singer songwriter who is about to give his music up. The girl inspired him to keep playing and their relationship grows from there. It doesn’t necessarily takes any of the turns one expects in a standard romantic comedy and this plays to its advantage as the music is filled with a sense of yearning and sadness. The music begins with some catchy Irish songs and follows by beautiful ballad one after and other, each with a good dose of melancholy and they all feels like a number one hit in the pop chart .The book, by Enda Walsh, is suitably sparse but to the point with nicely dotted jokes. As will Walsh’s other works, the book has a quintessential Irishness to it but it is also a nice departure from Walsh’s usual grittier subjects matter. There is an earthiness to the whole production which mirrors the story beautifully. The talented ensemble, who all play instruments for the music, sat around the stage throughout and there is a great sense of informality to it. Declan Bennett playing the guy can certainly play the guitar and sing. Bennett brought a shyness to the character and worked well with Zrinka Cvitešić playing the girl. Cvitešić has a vibrant enthusiasm on the outside while a sense of hesitation is never far from the surface. It felt a little low key for a west end musical throughout but its emotional power hits like a sledgehammer right at the end as the light fades out and I was completely blown away by it. This is a great musical with fantastic music and a believable story filled with emotional power. Highly recommended.

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One thought on “Once, Phoenix Theatre. ****

  1. Pingback: Once, Phoenix Theatre. (Second visit) **** | Chris' Weblog

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