Music and Lyrics: Adam Gwon
Director: Karl Steele
Reviewer: Selwyn Knight
Claire and Jason are a couple trying to work out how to live together but pulling in different directions. Jason is intoxicated with his love for her; she is inexplicably more resistant. Deb has drifted into graduate school and – horror of horrors – has somehow lost her notes that she keeps in longhand because her laptop is getting unreliable. Warren is the glass-half-full guy, ‘working’ for an imprisoned graffiti artist (after all, graffiti is illegal) who finds Deb’s notebook and seeks to return it.
Ordinary Days is comprised of the stories of these four people as they interact and ultimately find their way forward. It is a sung-through musical that, after each character is introduced to us, focuses on the couples Claire and Jason, Deb and Warren. It is only towards the end that the stories connect – and then only tangentially – but that connection has profound consequences as scales fall from eyes and each is ready to move on.
The star of the show is undoubtedly Alicia Barban’s Deb. Although not a native, she embodies the qualities of the typical New Yorker – full of sass, kooky and a little neurotic. Barban’s face is remarkably mobile with her whole body showing Deb’s emotions moment by moment. And her singing voice is terrific too. Duncan Burt’s Warren is almost painfully idealistic – if he weren’t so childlike in his enthusiasm he could be thoroughly annoying: certainly, Deb finds him so initially. But he becomes the pivot around which the others revolve as they resolve their paths forward.
James Edge is likeable as Jason and we feel his pain and confusion as Claire seems to blow hot and cold. Lisa MacGregor is the somewhat fragile Claire. Her voice is a touch less powerful than the others but her performance of the show-stopping I’ll Be Here that provides her resolution is flawless and utterly moving.
The whole is choreographed superbly, so scene flows into scene and the show progresses smoothly with no missteps. Karl Steele’s direction is tight and ensures that we see events from each person’s viewpoint. The economical set and lighting design are well thought out and used extremely well to enable the smooth transitions between scenes.
The entire show is accompanied only by musical director Nick Allen on piano that cements the feeling of intimacy as we peek into these New Yorkers’ lives. This opening night did have some minor technical sound issues with feedback and microphone settings.
This is the latest in a sequence of professional productions from the Old Joint Stock that demonstrates its commitment to presenting unusual, homemade productions alongside its presentation of independent touring productions; Ordinary Days further cements its growing reputation.
Runs until 19 March 2017 | Image: Karl Steele