Sometimes you’ll find a musical that doesn’t try to be anything other than what it is. These often take on small, intimate stories about things that relate directly to their audience – such as relationships and working lives. Ordinary Days, with music and lyrics by Adam Gwon, fits snugly into the Trafalgar Studio’s second studio space, offering a slice of human life in 80 minutes of musical joy. Gwon hasn’t written an epic love story, or superfluous songs about mundane narrative elements. Instead he offers a perfectly formed, and perfectly pitched, story of getting lost and finding yourself once more in the big picture we call life.
Jason (Daniel Boys) is moving in with his girlfriend Claire (Julie Atherton), and naturally there is room for adjustment in both their lives as they begin to fit the pieces of their scattered past into one apartment. Whilst moving in proves problematic for space, the greater concerns of setting up a life with the one you believe you love has both Jason and Claire questioning if it’s all worth it. Meanwhile there is Deb (Alexia Khadime) who doesn’t have the time, patience or need for anyone but herself and her aspirations, but when she loses her research notes for her thesis her life is dramatically put on hold. Warren (Lee William-Davis) stumbles across Deb’s notebook and sets about finding his sort-of fairy tale by returning it. A simple but wonderfully formed story.
Adam Lenson directs Ordinary Days in a stripped down and pure manner, focusing on the relationships and play within Gowan’s book rather than attempting to present something greater than and beyond the central story. Essentially Lenson delivers a real sense of being human, and the trials and tribulations that come with that. Possibly one the best element of Ordinary Days is the high standard of casting . In the small Trafalgar Studios 2, these performers, whose resumes glitter with West End highlights, are a joy to be an audience for – their singing filling your insides with happiness and a giddy feeling that you’re seeing true musical talent.
For me, Khadime steals the show with her witty and to-the-point portrayal of the bossy Deb. Her vocal abilities are extraordinary, with the versatility to sing witty numbers such as Dear Professor Thompson alongside softer touching numbers like Big Picture and Beautiful. Having said that, William-Davis’s loving Warren generates the warm feeling that any musical about life and love should have, especially in his character portrayal in Life Story. Atherton and Boys offer a wonderful couple whose squabbles are dealt with with lashings of love and tenderness throughout the show.
It’s not often that I connect with musical theatre, as it’s a genre that I constantly battle to place all my expectations of narrative, lyrics, orchestration and structure whilst still being able to stir that inner feeling of warmth, but Ordinary Days does it – and does it bloody well. It lifts you up, and makes you think about your bigger picture and how it’s often those people around you that make your life what it is.
This feel-good show and outstanding cast will leave you warm and fuzzy – and if not, you’ve clearly got a heart made of stone. Go see.
Ordinary Days is playing at the Trafalgar Studios 2 until 5th March. Booking through the website here.