Review: Ordinary Days

Pickle Productions’ new version of Adam Gwon’s Ordinary Days is streaming via The Theatre Cafe now

“I’m simply letting breakfast stir my soul”

Adam Gwon’s four-hander Ordinary Days is one of those musicals that keeps popping up every couple of years and for good reason, since its affecting and uplifting spirit really is rather lovely and, evidently, enduringly timeless. This production by Pickle Productions was destined for a Spring tour but as with so many others, has had to pivot. Staged and filmed in a theatre in Norfolk, it is now available for streaming via The Theatre Cafe.

The show follows 4 young-ish New Yorkers on a seemingly unremarkable day. But as Deb looks for her thesis notes and Warren for a purpose, as Jason moves in with Claire and Claire checks out emotionally, Gwon makes us look at how the vast majority of life is lived in the ‘ordinary’ and how the ongoing search for happiness is tied up in the many everyday decisions that on their own, might not seem to count for much.

It may not be particularly earth-shattering storytelling but that isn’t the intent here. Dan Smith’s production does wonders in following that thread about the effect of small acts of kindness, the power of being bold in a moment, the comfort that just being there can provide. And with a simple but effective backdrop design of evolving line-drawings locates us effortlessly in the Big Apple but suggests that with the flick of a pen, these stories could be playing out anywhere, in any city.

The production is also aided by four strong and emotionally forthright performances. Nic Myers holds up well as the tightly-wound Claire (a role in which Julie Atherton and Kirby Hughes have both utterly broken my heart) with Will Arundell providing the requisite support as a kindly Jason. And Bobbie Chambers and Joe Thompson-Oubari pair up beautifully as Deb and Warren whose path to a hard-won friendship feels pitch-perfect for a time of metropolitan isolation.

Musical director Ben Barrow brings a beautiful quality out of the new arrangement for his piano and Jessica Brydges’ cello, finding a moving musicality but keeping lyrical clarity in the forefront, something that’s always important but particularly so here as every ‘ordinary’ detail proves so important. A musical about human connection given the production full of humanity it deserves. 

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