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C Royale, Edinburgh

Ordinary Days is a newly devised musical that celebrates the gumption of New Yorkers. Ordinary Days follows a student called Deb (Nora Perone) and a hopeful actor called Warren (Neil Cameron) as well as a couple, Jason (Alisatair Frederick) and Claire (Kirby Hughes), who experience the erratic mood swings of young love. The songs all have a piano accompaniment performed by Kris Rawlinson.

Deb is struggling to finish her thesis. In the midst of panic she loses her notebook, which she needs to have in order to write the dissertation, given that it contains all of her research; someone should tell her about cloud storage. Nora Perone does a wonderful job at injecting humour into the character of Deb as she deals with her frustrations lyrically. The problem of the late thesis culminates in Deb’s hilariously desperate attempt to placate her professor with an email. Luckily, the notebook falls into the hands of the lonely Warren who values its sentimental aspect. Warren contacts Deb and arranges to handover the lost notebook in the Met gallery, hoping to find a friend in her. They grab a coffee and get to know each other. There is some initial abrasion between the two, but a sweet companionship eventually blossoms as the narrative progresses.

Meanwhile the ardent couple Jason and Claire plan to move in together. Alistair Frederick puts in a brilliant performance as the beaming lover and his honey-toned voice carries very well. Claire begins to move furniture and reorganise her possessions to accommodate Jason, but it soon becomes clear that she cannot relinquish anything; the space remains cramped. There is a period of tranquillity, but this gives way to disagreement as they begin to drift apart; New York can be a catalyst for adventure in one moment, but an overwhelming concrete jungle in another.

Ordinary Days definitely delivers in terms of comedy. The lyrics contain some well-written rhymes and match the characters they are written for. For instance, ‘Life Story’ is appropriate for Warren and his hopeful desire to learn about other people. In addition, ‘The Space Between’ perfectly fits Jason when he is completely engrossed by spending all of his time with Claire. A particularly funny song is ‘Gotta Get Out’, which is sung by Claire when she impulsively takes a taxi out of New York, believing that increasing the physical distance from her problems will afford her emotional security.

The characters eventually learn to breathe and destress. Deb and Warren throw a stack of flyers off the roof of a building in a blizzard of colour. The metaphor is obvious: there is an emphasis on letting go of difficulty and confusion. Ordinary Days is about finding strength in the mundane rather than living everyday striving for the impossible. There is a picture in the Met gallery that Warren likes for this reason: it is a still life of fruit, which is ostensibly boring, but holds an intrinsic value to him for its celebration of the ordinary.

Ordinary Days is an exhilarating and fast-paced musical. It feels a bit rushed when it grasps for a conclusion, but overall the songs are catchy and fresh. Each song suits the character it is written for and has a vibrant energy that makes you excited to hear the next one.

  • Musical
  • Writer: Adam Gwon
  • Director: Jen Coles
  • Cast includes: Alistair Frederick, Neil Cameron, Kirby Hughes and Nora Perone
  • C Royale, Edinburgh
  • Until 28 August 2017
  • Review by Nicholas Potter
  • 23 August 2017

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