Once is full of the beautiful musical of Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová. It is the story of two lost souls – each searching for a life raft for different reasons – and how these two come together in a perfectly symbiotic relationship for a handful of days. Yes, it is a love story, but it is not a typical Mirvish love story. In fact, it is not a typical Hollywood love story, either. But it works, just as it did for the film “Once” that inspired this stage adaptation.
As a fan of the music, since the release of the film “Once” in 2007, the on-stage adaptation did not disappoint. Hansard and Irglova’s music is enchanting and haunting at the same time, and not surprisingly, it translates beautifully on its Irish pub-themed stage, with a guitar, a piano and at times a full ensemble band. Ian Lake’s musical performance is stunning; the passion and emotion he intertwines into his performance – a must-have for a song like ‘Falling Slowly’ – is nothing short of powerful.
The entire cast – proudly Canadian for this second run on a Mirvish stage – is overwhelmingly talented. So talented, in fact that you may be left thinking that there was more left in them to give. As though they were just getting warmed up before their performances came to an end. The supporting cast performed Irish folk music in the form of jam sessions before the show and during intermission, and this was clearly their sweet spot in working together as a band, as opposed to a cast.
Where this performance waned was the chemistry between Him (Ian Lake) and Her (Trish Lindstrom). Given that the story takes place over only a matter of days, the chemistry and connection between these two should be palpable; you should want them to be together, and it should feel unjust if they aren’t. It should take you to your own memory of heart-hurting love, and pull to surface those feelings of desperately wanting to be with that person – however fleeting it may have been. If you have seen the film, you will expect this chemistry and the desperate love that comes with it; if you have not seen the film, you may not know what you are missing, but will potentially be left emotionally unsatisfied.
Photo credit: Cast of ONCE (c) 2015, Cylla von Tiedemann