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22 May 2013


Once the Musical
Phoenix Theatre, London
Wednesday 22nd May 2013

This simple, unassuming, beautiful Irish show has been stealing the hearts of New Yorkers during its run on Broadway, and has now come over to do the same to Londoners from its new home in the West End. A guitar playing Irish busker loses himself in his music on the streets of Dublin, when a Czech girl unexpectedly stops to compliment him.  As he reveals himself to be a vacuum cleaner repair man by day, and she reveals a need for his reparation services, so a brief but intense relationship blossoms with music solidly at its heart.

Irish music has a unique charm all of its own, and the folky feel to the acoustic score of this musical is achingly evocative of the atmospheric streets of Dublin. With the exceptionally talented actor-musician ensemble playing some fittingly Irish tunes among audience members who can venture up to the on-stage bar before the show, the scene is set from the moment one enters the auditorium. With the movement of a few chairs and tables along with the variously required instruments, the set design is simple, stripped back and thereby entirely in keeping with the quaint tone of the show.

Declan Bennett's silky smooth vocal tones are meltingly beautiful and entirely captivating from his first moment on stage. Playing the character with the perfect amount of shy self-doubt but slightly reluctant confidence in his own unassailable talent, this unassuming Irishman is convincingly attractive. Zrinka Cvitešić is witty, confident and entirely fascinating as the Czech girl who quickly enthrals him and the audience.  With a sweet vocal talent and adorable characterisation this was an enchanting performance.

Completely different to any other musical in town at the moment, this is a unique and enthralling show, with a simple yet completely heartbreaking story that absorbs the audience from the outset.  A modest production in every way even the advertising campaign has been relatively unobtrusive, but it is entirely worthy of all of the acclaim it has received to date. 

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