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Falling slowly: Girl, played by Emma Lucia on piano and Guy, played by Daniel Healy, on guitar.

Picture: Mark Senior


Belgrade Theatre Coventry


As we enter these very strange times, it came as a wonderful relief to spend an evening of total immersion in a world full of fun, music, laughter and love.

The Dublin experience starts the minute you enter the theatre – with a live Irish band playing! Just to get you in the mood . . . and even better, the doors open 15 minutes early to give you time to enjoy the craic on stage and soak up the joyous atmosphere of Libby Watson's set, transforming the Belgrade stage into a Dublin pub complete with framed pictures, mismatched chairs and sofas.

Once – Enda Walsh’s multi award winning hit musical, based on John Carney’s 2007 indie film, tells the cockle warming tale of the unnamed 'Guy' (Daniel Healy) a part-time Dublin guitarist busker (who works by day in his father’s vacuum repair shop) and 'Girl' (Emma Lucia) a young Czech immigrant and the happenstance of their meeting.

Drawn together through a love of music and a dodgy Hoover, their story is ingenuously told through short vignettes – whilst all based in the pub - (I want to be there!) complete with the most incredible musicians. Scenery is wheeled on and off by the musicians – who are far more than just part of the set! 

Girl’s persistent cajoling and encouragement makes Guy revisit his beautiful love songs, originally written about his ex girlfriend, who had left him heartbroken. With Girl’s support, both musical and emotional, they set about creating a professional recording of their songs, becoming closer as their music binds them together.  But through this, Girl sadly realises she has been hiding from her own responsibilities and perhaps their destinies are not the same as they both must face their own futures.

The songs hold the story together – and those songs are just so good! My skin is still tingling from the opening notes of Falling Slowly. Guy and Girl together – in perfect harmony, the joining of two cultures and two hearts.

Both actors have the most amazing voices, complementing each other beautifully. The cast of actor-musicians add to the brilliant atmosphere throughout. They never leave the stage and effortlessly slip from actor to musician at the drop of a busker’s hat!

Some stand out character actors – including Dan Bottomley as Billy and Connor McFarlane as Eamon bring humour and fun into the show and change the mood perfectly. Reza (played by Hanna Kholgali) was brilliantly seductive with and without the fiddle! I will never forget the entire cast simply singing Gold a cappella. Spell binding and more skin tingling!

Once really was not enough to see this wonderful story of love with perhaps a different definition of happy ever after. If only I could bottle the feeling of joy and love and hope that was on stage last night – and have secret 20 second sniffs of it over the weeks to come!

And to anyone undecided – take Girl’s advice and ‘Go’! To 14-03-20.

Liz Leck


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