Broadway on a Budget


ImageOnce Is Definitely Not Enough

I’m a student who loves to go and see musicals, plays, gigs, whatever it is, if it’s on stage, I want to see it. But if you’ve ever been to London’s Broadway, you’ll know that tickets don’t come cheap. So here’s my advice. Travel to London by coach, normally around a fiver from either Canterbury or home in Salisbury and turn up at Leicester Square where all the cut-price ticket booths are, desperate to get rid of their last seats. Pick the cheapest one going. It doesn’t matter what it is or whether you’ve heard of it before. It’s more fun that way.

I gave it a go and here’s my review of Once at The Phoenix Theatre.

Ticket: Under £20

Verdict: Once is definitely not enough.

It’s your average guitar-playing, hoover-fixing Dubliner boy meets eccentric, singing Czech girl, and it’s the best musical I’ve seen in a very long time.

Don’t go expecting the all-singing, all-dancing, glittering scenes of Wicked or Dirty Dancing, this is more of a play performed to music. If you’ve seen the film, you’ll know the storyline is as simple as its title: two strangers meet, make music, become friends, fall in love and then fall back into the normality of their lives, except apart from each other. But the plot really isn’t what matters here. It’s all about the music. And what amazing music it is.

I implore you to listen to the film soundtrack and if you haven’t heard of the Academy Award winning Falling Slowly, written by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová (the stars of the film) what the hell have you been listening to? It’s so beautifully composed that I have it on repeat pretty much all the time. And performed on stage by Declan Bennett and Zrinka Cvitesic, it’s the perfect lullaby.

Before the musical has even begun, the actors are on stage, just playing around with their instruments and their voices while we get settled in our seats. The atmosphere was so relaxed, I was tempted to jump over the balcony, join them and realise my potential as a West End star (if only that wasn’t an insanely dangerous idea). And who doesn’t love a musical where, during the interval, the pub in the set becomes a fully functioning bar where you can get on stage and enjoy a drink. It’s probably the only time I’ll get to appear on Broadway (so that’s definitely going on my CV).

Throughout the play, we see just a handful of actors on stage, swapping in and out of scenes and playing their own musical specialty on one simple set. Over the two hours, all we see is a few chairs, a table and some spotlights for the night sky. There’s no need for over the top props and sets, just beautifully talented actors and their voices in one modern and realistic (almost) fairy tale.

There’s a charming contrast between the Irish and Czech characters which adds plenty of humour as they mock each others accents and mannerisms. And when the actors are laughing at the jokes as much as you, you can tell they’re doing it for more than just a paycheck. They’re enjoying their time on stage, despite performing eight times a week. Bennet and Cvitesic have undeniable chemistry and it’s incredibly heart warming and obvious to see that this tight knit cast are genuinely friends backstage too. It’s a pleasure to watch.

There’s really not much more to say: it’s just simple and you need to see it.

But if you don’t get the chance to go to London and see this masterpiece, then definitely definitely definitely watch the film and listen to the soundtrack. Hours and hours of procrastination right there. You’re welcome.


(Photo by Tom Morris)


Thank you!

indy (2)Just a quick post to say thank you so much to everyone that read, liked, commented on, tweeted and shared my recent article. I really appreciate everyone’s support with it. I am so grateful that it seems to have helped many people and am completely overwhelmed by how far it’s gone. Now I guess it’s time to come back down to reality and do some more writing and something else I can’t quite remember… Oh yes, my degree.

Here’s the link if you missed it:


Who’s scared of the word ‘cancer’, Katie Hopkins? I am.

This is a more serious (and emotional, sorry about that) post, but one I think needs to be written. So please read it.

A recent tweet by renowned loud-mouth Katie Hopkins got me very riled up. Known for her outrageous views, you know, the one who won’t let her kids play with Tyler or Chantelle, I actually follow her on twitter to see what ridiculous nonsense she comes up with next. But recently, something she said hit a nerve.


Don’t worry, stick with it, this is still a student article because everything I’m about to say all happened when I was a young and frightened college student. And I want other students who have gone through the same thing to know it wasn’t just them.

Katie Hopkins has chosen to talk about a matter very close to my heart, and to the hearts of probably just about every one of you reading this. Now if Hopkins wants to come out and ask why we are so scared of the word cancer, then she wants to re-live what myself and my family went through in 2012.

When I was 17 and in my second year of college, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, an aggressive form that led to the most hellish year and a half of our lives. As a teenager who lived with her Mum and only her Mum, I suffered everything with her. Most people have another parent to help them out, their siblings at home to hold you when you’re scared, or a large family to comfort you when you want to give up. But for me, it was just me and my Mum, the most important person in my life. I cannot put in to words how difficult, terrifying and heart breaking that was.

If you’re a college student now, just think about your workload, your A levels, your desperate attempts to get into a decent uni to try and make your parents proud. Now imagine dealing with that whilst caring for a parent, passing your driving test and only driving so you can take them to the hospital, cooking for them, seriously contemplating not going to uni because they haven’t even finished their treatment yet, looking after them after every operation, every round of chemotherapy and every other drug under the sun has been pumped through their bodies. Fun, right?

And you know what the worst part is. The cancer wasn’t making my Mum ill, the drugs to make her better were. Two operations, 18 weeks of chemotherapy, 4 weeks of radiotherapy and a year of Herceptin and the emotional distress and physical scars to last a lifetime. You never fully recover from cancer. The word itself is loaded with negative connotations, and it honestly makes me nervous when I hear it or read it because I feel like it’s coming back to get us.

I am more than happy to stand up and admit, even after going through it all with my mother and watching her finally get better, that I am scared of the word cancer. Terrified in fact, because it could always come back. There is no cure. Until you’ve found a cure for every cancer, no, every disease out there, we’ll all be scared to some degree.

I am in no way fishing for sympathy. We got through it and my Mum is certainly a tougher person because of it. I just want other students to know that your studies and that bad grade you got in that essay, is not the end of the world (no offence). And if you went through what I went did, well done. Other students, other teenagers need the support that I lacked. The only thing I ever wanted was to deal with the pain and drugs so my mum didn’t have to and I know that upset her more than anything. But I was completely powerless to helping her and I found that more painful than anything I have ever experienced. I know that anyone who has been in this situation will say exactly the same, but they’ve probably never told anyone that, so I’m telling you for them.

So actually Katie Hopkins, thank you, because if you hadn’t angered me so much, I wouldn’t have had the guts to write this.

What I want to know is: how can you NOT be scared?