Ordinary Days

Fri 4th – Mon 28th August 2017


Clarissa Mayhew

at 13:48 on 15th Aug 2017



Singing. From start to finish. Ordinary Days, brought to Edinburgh by the London Theatre Workshop after an impressive journey from Penn State University to New York and London, is the musical story of four reluctant New Yorkers battling with the pressures of feeling small in the Big Apple.

As the particularly swanky programme suggests, this production has a serious professional cast as the stamina of the singers showed. Nora Perone as Deb, whose persistent fury was matched only by the constancy of her ambition, was a stand out actress raising laughs throughout. Her clashes with professional cat sitter and art admirer Warren (Neil Cameron) whose easy going, even passive, approach to life offered a farcical foil to the slower, more ernest story of couple Claire (Kirby Hughes) and John (who later turns into Jason?? a confusing moment) (Alistair Frederick) as they discover the city and each other.

Limited stage space was used with great ingenuity especially in the number ‘I’m Trying’ in which Claire and John traverse the city to complete the top ten things to do in New York - all within approximately 5m^2. Our whistlestop tour through Brooklyn, Central Park and the Met Museum put the city centre stage - it, perhaps, plays the main part in this musical - and it is their relationships to the city that largely guide the characters’ relationships to each other, bringing them together in however unexpected configurations.

Frederick’s character John, a somewhat dreamy lover-boy was a less auspicious figure than the rest of colourful cast yet his piercingly sincere (& beautiful) eye contact throughout his love songs conveyed a sensitive and rather soft persona. In the 70 minutes of the show we watch the whole arc of his and Claire’s relationship unfold - through initial smittenness to petty squabbles over wine and art and on. Together their songs play with the metaphorical and literal senses of what it is to be ‘here’ continuing a theme of investigating spatiality that unfolds throughout.

The metaphors that guide the show add a clever twist to the comic predictability of each of the characters. Warren and Deb are saved from potential resignation to rather obvious stereotypes by the change they undergo across the show as they mutually begin to show each other another perspective to the phrase ‘big picture’. Warren’s mini-lecture on the beauty of the ordinary combines a touch of art theory and hippy-dippy lifestyle advice in a sentimental but appropriate comment on the whole show.

Charming, sweet and full of skill, 'Ordinary Days' is a well executed and amusing work showcasing some young international talent amongst fabulous music and a convincing 21st century city story.


Simona Ivicic

at 14:13 on 15th Aug 2017



In the intimate basement of Royale C we uncover a witty, but intense and relatable, tale of human connection and finding one's true self in the madness of life. 'Ordinary Days' captures the lives of four individuals and makes their ordinary lives quite extraordinary. Claire, Jason, Warren and Deb all feel lost in New York City in one way or another, and we follow their journey of self-discovery when doubt begins to infiltrate what was their previously hopeful and limitless future.

The pace of the production is effortless as music director, Adam Gwon, allows for intense moments to truly resonate with the audience. This proves particularity effective in the intimate moments between Claire (played by Kirby Hughes) and Jason, who struggle with letting go of their past in order to begin a future together. On stage we witness the slow deterioration of their relationship and the heart breaking process of re-evaluating, and letting go of those you love the most. The music and lights work together beautifully to create moments that become truly magical. This is specifically seen in Claire’s evocative monologue, which expressed her frightening loss of self and is so palpable to the point where some of the audience were in tears.

The decline of one relationship is juxtaposed with the formation of another. The unlikely friendship between Deb and Warren and their quick wit serves at times as comic relief from the intensity of Claire and Jason’s internal struggles to stay together. Warren, a fanciful romantic and artist who has lost his sense of purpose in life and Deb, a feisty student who has lost her sense of academic direction come together and find beauty in unexpected places. Nora Perone’s performance as Deb is witty, sharp and often moving. She perfectly strikes the balance of brutal and direct honesty for comedic effect, and her character's slow development from an overtly frustrated, hectic and impatient person, to someone who learns to breath and appreciate the beauty of the ordinary is a pleasure to watch.

Ultimately the play is without fault. The direction of the play is fantastic; the acting is brilliant and the music incredible. However, the women in this play were slightly stronger than their male counterparts. Their voices filled the room with emotions of pain, sadness and frustration, but also laughter. We see these very individual stories unfold in ways that are seemingly unrelated, however, each just as relatable. The show makes you question how relationships either help you progress and develop, or stifle you to a point where you lose yourself.


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