A PERFORMANCE of Once at a local theatre has cemented for me the fact that it's one of the greatest musicals around. 

The story of Guy, a down-on-his-luck and broken-hearted musician and the whirlwind, yet bitter-sweet, love story between him and Girl, a Czech mother with a firey spirit has always impressed in productions I've seen in the West End. 

But I've yet to see a touring production of it, or even just a smaller production like the one currently on at the Barn Theatre in Cirencester, so I absolutely had to check it out. 

Small changes were made to the acoustic folk stylings of the original West End production, with this revival opting for a more live-music-esque setting and feel. There's less strumming in an Irish pub and more reverb and rock in an 02 Academy-style venue. 

Another change is that some of the action spills out into the audience, with characters in the aisle talking to characters on the stage, helping to highlight the intimacy of a show like Once already strengthened by the Barn as a venue. 

But, the musical still retained many of the elements that make Once such a compelling story and such an intriguing musical.

For example, outside of the central two characters the cast all play musical instruments live on stage, which is particularly effective during musical interludes that incorporate the riff of the show's most iconic song 'Falling Slowly'. 

And by the time that song rolls around for a second time, it's hard to be overcome by the emotionality of the story as our two lovers realise that life's complications mean they can't be together - which is something that's happened at every performance I've seen of Once, such is the strength of the writing and the quality of the songs. 

Sarah Moss and Tomas Wolstenholme really shine as Girl and Guy with the former nailing her perkiness and the latter giving us the rawest Guy I think I've seen. 

I've been a big fan of Once in all its iterations ever since I first saw the Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova and it's something I, clearly, have high expectations of because of how much I like it. 

And, I have to say that it is a treat to see a local theatre put on a production of it that does it justice. If you want to see a West End quality musical, at affordable local theatre prices then jump at this!

For tickets and more information visit: https://barntheatre.org.uk/once.