• Dress Circle Reviews

Once on this Island Blog

Updated: Sep 28, 2019

The Once on this Island team!

In a church hall in central London we descended into a space with just some chairs and a ladder ready to see a preview of excerpts from Once on This Island, being presented by the British Theatre Academy at the Southwark Playhouse this summer.

The show focuses on so many themes through racial separation, class division and cultural expectations. When asked why it was important to tell this story now the director Lee Proud said “Have you seen the news lately!”. It’s timely, relevant and important.

It’s described as a “calypso-flavoured re-telling of the The Little Mermaid fairy tale”, the Disney version of which has been dealing with a racist backlash after choosing a talented BAME actress to take the lead role, emphasizing the need for this story to be told now. It tells the story of peasant girl Ti Moune who falls in love with a grand homme after the gods decided to test if Love or Death is stronger. It is ultimately a story of love – and as the director said you could feel the love in the room.

Being in the rehearsal space we were able to focus on the beautiful acting and score. You could tell the talent on display as we sat with goosebumps in the sweltering heat. It shows that you don’t need a set or big theatrics to make a show – it’s about the reactions you elicit and the talented cast moved us with the raw emotions and their powerful emotive voices. It’s even more impressive when you consider how young the cast is, ranging from 15 to mid-20s. It’s a young enthusiastic cast who tug on your heartstrings.

It was a privilege to get to preview parts of the show and we are excited to see the full show when it opens. It’s great to see a show opening with a majority BAME cast who are wonderfully showcased here. On meeting the cast you can see their passion, saying it was ‘important as we get to embrace out culture”, alongside their commitment and hard work. What they’ve done so far is stunning and I can only imagine what they’ll be able to achieve in next two weeks before they open. This young cast are the future of the west end…it’s in good hands.

We’ll be getting tickets and encourage you to as well. It’s on From Aug 9th (previews until Aug 13th) – Aug 31st. Tickets are available here: