Ordinary Days is the latest production with which Tone Deaf Theatre Company (TDTC) have graced the Durham theatre scene . If you can get past the rather large helping of cheese, witty moments are slotted into the musical featuring powerful singing and brilliant acting from this four-person show.
Ordinary Days does just about what it says on the tin: it seeks to take a look into the ordinary lives of ordinary people living in New York, and whilst there are a lot of New York references (I at least got the Times Square one) we are painted a picture of the bubble New York can create. And, although New York and Durham aren’t too comparable, the audience can somewhat relate to that bubble feeling.
It seeks to take a look into the ordinary lives of ordinary people living in New York
Bursting onto the stage, the first character we meet is enigmatic Warren, masterfully acted by Ben Osland. Captivated by Osland’s almost exaggerated, boundless energy the audience are reeled into learning more about why Warren is flyering at the Met Museum for an incarcerated artist. Entertaining and endearing, Osland creates a dynamic, bubbly atmosphere that makes you very glad you made the trek up to Trevs to see the musical even though you’re only one song in.
Initially, we meet the four characters separately, being introduced next to uptight and ambitious grad student Deb (Naomi Cook), and then couple Claire (Izzy Mackie) and Jason (Jonny Hewitt) juggling the undulations of relationships and underlying personal struggles. All the characters are played beautifully, each managing to be distinct from the other yet remaining the depiction of average people going about their ordinary days.
Cook is captivating as Deb, eye-rolling, sarcasm and sharp comments complete, and as Deb and Warren interact the characters juxtapose to create witty and endearing scenes. Perhaps the most relatable to stressed out students, Deb’s story starts with her losing her thesis notes and going into panic mode, with Cook hitting the stressed-out student complex perfectly in a thoroughly entertaining song.
All the characters are played beautifully
Mackie and Hewitt take us through the trials and tribulations of the small things that get in your way when moving in with a loved one, and how disastrous their accumulation can be. Whilst some of their chemistry onstage is more convincing at times more than others, both provide enjoyable, powerful performances with a particular mention to Mackie’s incredible singing as we watch them bicker.
When all four characters make it onstage at once the fast-paced, dynamic choreography gives the audience a chance to see where the story is heading and where characters may intertwine, drawing out their similarities. Featuring a couple of clichés and more than one cringe-worthy line, Ordinary Days manages to capture emotion in a subtle way which gives the performance a surprising amount of heart. Dry humour and wit are infused throughout, creating a fun, upbeat atmosphere in the feel-good musical you need to see to beat the November gloom.
The feel-god musical you need to see to beat the November gloom
Simple staging is complemented by the performers dominating the stage effectively and filling the intimate space at Trevs to make the atmosphere their own. Using one excellent pianist (Fergus Carver), keeps the songs authentic, adding to the simplicity of the two-chair set. Clever staging allows all four characters to collide unbeknownst to them at the Met museum, and further embellishes the theme of art running throughout the show. Paintings by Amber Conway feature on the set which adds a nice touch to the stage and adds depth to the performance. In various scenes inventive staging is used and the chairs become, well, whatever the cast decide in this wonderfully uplifting play.
You won’t be disappointed
Overall, each character is performed with brilliant energy, with heartfelt and furiously entertaining songs throughout the show that leave the audience laughing non-stop. Despite some cheesy lines, the characters capture the essence of leading ordinary lives, which is sometimes overlooked in shows that seek to portray the bigger things in life. With an unexpected twist at the end you begin to realise how sometimes there is more to ordinary people on ordinary days that you might think. For a charming, incredibly entertaining and energetic performance head to Ordinary Days and you won’t be disappointed.
Image by TDTC