Drayton Arms Theatre – until 9 December. Reviewed by Claire Roderick
Streetlights, People!’s production of Ordinary Days is a triumph of minimalism, proving that you don’t need huge sets and effects to stage a quality show. Adam Gwon’s wonderfully conversational songs and a hugely talented cast make this a memorable production, with Jen Coles nifty direction managing to create the feel of a bustling metropolis with only 4 actors, accompanied by the fantastic Rowland Braché on keyboard.
This is a show about finding the beauty in everyday things, with the 4 characters all struggling to find their place in the big city. Warren (Neil Cameron) is a struggling artist whose major contribution to the art scene is cat sitting, but he has a glorious world view, finding joy and beauty in the simplest things. He finds a book containing the thesis notes of grad student Deb (Nora Perone) and arranges to meet her to return it. Deb is stuck in a rut with her research, and is full of vague ambition and stress. Her initial disdain develops into a sweet friendship – who could resist the lovely Warren for long? The perfect gay bestie.
Meanwhile Jason (Taite-Elliot Drew) is moving in with his girlfriend Claire (Natalie Day), and she’s not really happy about it. The audience are kept in the dark about her reasons for this unwillingness to let go of the past and commit to a new relationship until the penultimate song “I’ll Be Here”, and oh boy, is it a tearjerker. Have your tissues ready for that one – having seen the show in an earlier run, I was sniffling before she’d even begun.
That’s about it, really. Simple, but very, very effective, and affecting. The cast keep you gripped, and are all pitch perfect. Natalie Day brings raw emotion to Claire’s struggle to let go of the past. I promise you, she’ll break your heart. Taite-Elliot Drew is fantastic as Jason, full of boyish confusion and frustration about their relationship. Their argument duet “Fine” is a standout moment. Neil Cameron is the gentle heart of the piece, with a delightful stage presence and excellent voice, while Nora Perone is his perfect foil as the acerbic and exasperated Deb – showing her comedy chops to great effect.
Ordinary Days is a delightful, optimistic take on life, chock-a-block with great songs, characters and performances – the theatrical equivalent of a big, warm hug.