‘Charm & wit’: Ordinary Days – Drayton Arms Theatre

In London theatre, Musicals, Opinion, Reviews, Sticky, Ticket recommendations by Laura KresslyLeave a Comment

Drayton Arms Theatre, London – until 9 December 2017
Guest reviewer: Gregory Forrest

A single piano backs this tongue-in-cheek trip into the lives of four ordinary New Yorkers living out ordinary days. In just 75 minutes we traverse heartbreaks, five-year plans, and the elaborate traffic network which swirls around the Metropolitan Museum of Art. A distinctly American musical about Central Park, Broadway, and groceries from Gristedes, Ordinary Days doesn’t shake up the twenty-first century, but this is certainly a solid production.

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The music itself is sweet, simple, and a bit sickly at times. Lyrically it is a paint-by-numbers affair. There is a list song, a quick-speak song, a contrasting duet, and plenty of ‘I want’ belters thrown in for emotional measure.

Three things elevate the evening out of obscurity. Firstly, the rapid-firing and side-splitting ‘Fine’, an argumentative duet which includes the best exchange of the evening: ‘Fine! I’ll bring the red, you bring the white / That way I’ll still get drunk, you’ll still be right / Fine! / Fine! / Fine!’

Secondly, there is the glorious Deb. A semi-neurotic slice of contemporary crisis. Nora Perone completely nails the role with her excellent vocals and comic timing. Before she has uttered a word, Perone is hilarious. Her astute physical presence suggests Deb’s bubbling rage at every turn, while in quieter moments she is always able to explore the darker side of crazy.

And finally, there is the beautiful ‘I’ll Be There’. The most famous song from the musical, it is four minutes of storytelling and emotion. Memories flood the stage, screwing up the timescale of the show in a glorious turn. As Claire, Natalie Day nails this heart-wrenching showstopper, and brings the evening to a tearful close.

Elsewhere Ordinary Days is, well, like the wine, distinctly fine. Songs move along at plinky plonky pace, and get us to where we need to be. Direction from Jen Coles is focused and cohesive, and keeps the comic cadences of Adam Gwon’s lyrics cleverly in view. This production doesn’t soar; as Deb would say, it doesn’t quite reach the sky. But it surely does try. With charm and wit, it flutters.

Ordinary Days runs through 9 December.

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Laura Kressly on RssLaura Kressly on Twitter
Laura Kressly
Laura is a US immigrant who has lived in the UK since 2004. Originally trained as an actor with a specialism in Shakespeare, she enjoyed many pre-recession years working as a performer, director and fringe theatre producer. When the going got too tough, she took a break to work in education as a support worker, then a secondary school drama teacher. To keep up with the theatrical world, she started reviewing for Everything Theatre and Remotegoat in 2013. In 2015, Laura started teaching part time in order to get back into theatre. She is now a freelance fringe theatre producer and runs her independent blog, theplaysthethinguk.com.
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Laura Kressly on RssLaura Kressly on Twitter
Laura Kressly
Laura is a US immigrant who has lived in the UK since 2004. Originally trained as an actor with a specialism in Shakespeare, she enjoyed many pre-recession years working as a performer, director and fringe theatre producer. When the going got too tough, she took a break to work in education as a support worker, then a secondary school drama teacher. To keep up with the theatrical world, she started reviewing for Everything Theatre and Remotegoat in 2013. In 2015, Laura started teaching part time in order to get back into theatre. She is now a freelance fringe theatre producer and runs her independent blog, theplaysthethinguk.com.

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