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Ordinary Days The Musical at the Cockpit Theatre | Review

Ordinary Days The Musical The set for this production of Ordinary Days is an open layout – there are rooms, because the lyrics strongly indicate so, but the audience can’t see any doors or windows. Instead are several boxes dotted around the stage, each containing miscellaneous props that come in handy: one could count on one hand the number of objects that are mimed. Such a heavy reliance on the dialogue (the show is very nearly entirely sung through) allows the audience to focus on what is being sung, to the point where I started to wonder if even all the props were strictly necessary.

A chamber musical, more is revealed about certain characters more than others. Claire (Betty Jones) and Jason (Jeremy Sartori) are clearly in love with each other, though I don’t even recall what either does for a living. Warren (Anthony Rickman), on the other hand, is memorably a house-sitter for an artist whose work he is also trying to promote by trying to dole out flyers as though he were on the Royal Mile during the Edinburgh Fringe, and Deb (Charlotte George) is a ‘grad student’, to use American terminology – the show is, after all, set in New York City – reading English Literature.

With twenty-one musical numbers in a one-act production, it can all feel a tad relentless, but this nonetheless captures the hustle and bustle of life in the Big Apple. That said, when Deb sings the aptly named ‘Calm’, she escapes city life for a while, and in the penultimate number, ‘I’ll Be Here’, Claire takes a moment to poignantly reflect on where she is in her relationship with Jason. Musical accompaniment is in the form of keyboards (John Reddel) alone, which combined with unamplified voices gives the production a definitive living room ambience.

Those seeking big ‘song and dance’ numbers are advised to look elsewhere. It’s a good thing to report no stand-out performances here, if only because they bounce well off one another, and in the bigger numbers involving all four characters, the harmonies are very easy on the ears indeed. The show is unafraid of stereotypes – it is no wonder I found myself siding with Deb’s cynicism in the face of Warren’s relentless optimism, and in one scene, Claire appears to be running around doing household chores whilst Jason fails to even put clothes in the laundry basket.

A rather dry sense of humour permeates the production: I particularly enjoyed a scene in a branch of Starbucks where Warren simply wants a cup of tea. But it’s Starbucks, and one cannot simply have a cup of tea – is it small, medium or large? With milk? What kind of milk? And so on – Deb is remarkably well-versed in all the different options. The main issue with the show is that it does live up to its title. That is to say that the extraordinary can hardly be expected to arise from the ordinary, so while it’s good theatre, it’s not exactly amazing.

Beauty is, to quote the old adage, in the eye of the beholder, however, and of course some positivity and contentment can be found even in the relatively mundane. Some aspects of the narrative are more relatable than others, and it is difficult not to feel some degree of concern for Warren, a character with a big heart in an unwavering and intransigent metropolis. All that needs to be sung is sung in under an hour and a half, and there can never be enough reminders in life to take time to look before you leap. A charming and understated production.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

An old sweater, a lost notebook, a bottle of riesling and a free piece of stuff!
Ordinary Days is a poignant and relatable story of four New Yorkers trying to find their way in life: a woman who can’t let things go; a man who wants to start afresh; an artist who struggles to find his purpose; and a student who’s lost her thesis notes.

Join a dysfunctional couple and an unlikely friendship on a story of truth, trust and change, as four young hopefuls try their best to navigate an ordinary life in a city that feels anything but.

Twitter: @SLAMtheatreUK
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Produced by SLAM. theatre
Presented by The Cockpit
Music and Lyrics by Adam Gwon
Directed by Andy Patterson & Emma Harvey
Musical Direction By John Reddel

CAST
Betty Jones – Claire
Jeremy Sartori – Jason
Charlotte George – Deb
Anthony Rickman – Warren

ORDINARY DAYS THE MUSICAL
The Cockpit, Gateforth Street, Marylebone, London, NW8 8EH
Tuesday 17th September – Saturday 21st September
Duration: 1 Hour, 15 Minutes
https://www.thecockpit.org.uk/

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