REVIEW: Ordinary Days (Drayton Arms Theatre) ★★★
We’re all specks of a bigger picture, which, in itself pretty ordinary, can contain incredible beauty – so is the premise of the musical “Ordinary Days”, currently playing in the theatre space above the Drayton Arms Pub near Gloucester Road.
Originally produced in New York City by Roundabout Theatre, it has since been picked up by Streetlights, People! Productions, the brainchild of director Jen Coles and performer Nora Perone.
“Ordinary Days” is set in contemporary New York and follows four young adults trying to navigate life in the metropolis. Jason (Taite-Elliot Drew) moves in with his girlfriend Claire (Natalie Day) who fails to let go of her past. Short-tempered student Deb (Nora Perone) coincidentally crosses paths with struggling art-lover Warren (Neil Cameron) who has found her lost thesis notes. The two storylines only lightly touch occasionally. Jason and Claire’s love story provides the feeling while Deb and Warren contribute comic relief and philosophical thought. The stage design is simplistic as there is, well, none – but it is easy enough for a Londoner to imagine bustling New York City – especially as struggles (housing situations, or the constant rush of commuters) are more than familiar. Familiarity and relatability is what makes this musical enjoyable. The downside of “Ordinary Days” is that it is too much exactly that: ordinary. However, it has its moments. Nora Perone’s Deb never fails to elicit laughs with her wide-eyed annoyance and bounces well off adorable weirdo Warren as portrayed by Neil Cameron. Natalie Day gives her Claire the right kind of vulnerability and does especially well during the songs “Fine” and “Gotta Get Out”. Taite-Elliot Drew’s Jason is heartwarming and genuine, for example when his voice slightly breaks when facing his fear of heights. Some songs have clever punchlines but unfortunately remain mediocre. It is moreover a shame that Deb’s storyline does not seem to amount to much, and that Claire in the end is not allowed to be more than forever the love interest.
A nice touch are Warren’s inspirational flyers which the audience has to cross on their way out. With a running time of only 75 minutes, “Ordinary Days” makes for a nice addition to any night out at the pub.
Reviewed by Lisa Theresa Downey-Dent