Mini-review – Ordinary Days – Trafalgar Studios

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The modern musical: is there any hope for it? Well, I am constantly hoping I’ll find something that catches me, though only Drowsy Chaperone and Avenue Q have really rang my bells in the last few years. Mostly, I feel like the lifeform has been dying a prolonged death post-Chicago, but I’m ever hopeful that some work of genius will show up – and how can it be created if there is no audience there to support it? Thus I took up a last minute invite from Tim Watson (neglected blog here, rather more lively London theatre podcast here) to see Ordinary Days at Trafalgar Studios. I went totally cold, knowing literally nothing about the show other than the ticket price (£15-£25, so affordable) and the running time (80 minutes). And, really, for that price and that time commitment, I say, why not?

Ordinary Days is about four people living in New York City in the more or less current time. There is a couple, Claire and Jason (Julie Atherton and Daniel Boys), who start with the song “I’m Moving In” (or something, amusingly followed by a song best summarized as “Where Does All of my Crap Go”) There’s also Warren, a male artist-type (Lee William Davis), and Deb (Alexia Khadimo), a graduate student. They sing songs about going to the Met and visiting the sights of the city and worrying about grad school; Warren and Deb meet and become friends, while Claire and Jason seem to be drifting apart. Unfortunately, I found most of the songs very same-same – the music and the way things were being sung seemed neither memorable nor interesting. Some musicals seem to only have one song, and this could almost be said to be true of Ordinary Days, except that I felt it had no songs. This caused me to get bored and kind of drift away during Jason’s big solo, facilitated by the fact that from my position at the extreme sides of the stage I wasn’t able to hear the words the actors were singing and thus had no narrative thread to support me.

There were some good moments in the show – I liked the scene at the art museum where all of the characters were talking about how they responded to art in different ways, and the bit at the top of the skyscraper where I suddenly thought the play was going to turn tragic – but then right before the end Clare did a song about 9/11 and I just burst into tears. Apparently I’m still a bit sensitive about the whole thing. Despite this, I think its use as a device to get her over a character crisis in the play wasn’t very believable, although the song itself was … well, the one I liked the best in the play. Overall, though, this seemed like more work than it should have been for its length and I didn’t care for it. If you know the style of the music, you’ll probably like it a lot, but I really prefer my musicals to have hook and a bit more story to boot.

(This review is for a performance that took place the night of Saturday, February 12th, 2011. The play continues through March 5th. For an alternate take, please see Jake Orr’s review on A Younger Theatre. While there, I was recommended to see the play Hot Mikado at the Arts Depot in East Finchley. “All of our songs sound different, I promise,” the man whispered in my ear before he ran out into the night.)

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One Response to “Mini-review – Ordinary Days – Trafalgar Studios”

  1. PassionForTheatre Says:

    I went to see this last night and while it was a perfectly affable musical, I wasn’t enthralled by it. As a Londoner, I could relate to many of the themes explored here but I left the theatre feeling that not enough was explored to justify metropolitan living and all that comes with it. But Alex Khadime’s Deb was a joy to watch and she was a beacon that lit up the stage.

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