By Enda Walsh, Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová. Black Swan Theatre Company of WA and Darlinghurst Theatre Company. Directed by Richard Carroll. Regal Theatre, Subiaco, WA. May 28- June 12, 2022

Every so often you see a show that absolutely ticks all the boxes and is a complete joy to experience. Black Swan Theatre Company of WA and Darlinghurst Theatre Company’s Once is a beautiful production that touches the soul, and I highly recommend that you stop reading now and go and book a ticket.

Unique in its presentation, Once is a musical without an orchestra, with the music played on stage by the actors, often as part of the story. The narrative centres around characters known only as Girl and Guy, who are brought together by music. Performed by a dozen quadruple threat performers, who work as a beautifully cohesive ensemble, the transitions between actor and instrumentalist and the sitting and sharing of instruments is beautiful to watch.

At the centre of the show, Stefanie Caccamo as the Girl delivers a mesmerising performance, and you will find yourself constantly drawn to watch her. She has a beautiful singing voice and impeccable Czech accent, but her wonderful character development (and indeed the nature of Girl herself) makes her performance outstanding. She develops a very tangible relationship with the Guy, emotively played and expertly sung by Toby Francis. 

Stellar performances throughout include Victoria Falconer’s forthright Reza (Victoria is also the impressive Musical Director), Pavan Kumar Hari’s Svec (great percussion), Abe Mitchell as Andrei, Alec Steedman as Eamon, Patrick Schnur as the Emcee and Jennifer Trijo’s lovely Baruška. Rupert Reid steals scenes as the loveable Billy, Gus Noakes is great fun as the Bank Manager and Deidtre Know as the Ex-Girlfriend. Luke Hewitt is charming as Da, delivering a beautiful performance, even more impressive as he joined the cast just days before the first performance. As well as playing with precision and style, the cast move with grace, under the direction of Amy Campbell.

Set and costume designer Hugh O’Connor’s warm, dark wood set, is used for multiple locales - and strongly evokes an Irish pub - blending nicely with the dark walls of the Regal and drawing us into the action, although we are also drawn in by the fact that the performance starts in the auditorium with performers strolling through performing before the show (take your seat early). Peter Rubie’s lighting design is strong, bold and beautiful, but also sensitively encloses some touching moments.

The audience on opening night were reluctant to leave, demanding a further curtain call even after the house lights had come up - first time I have seen that in Perth. Once is a phenomenal gem, that is both warm, gentle, and exciting. Book your ticket now.

Kimberley Shaw

Photographer: Daniel J. Grant


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