It’s an ordinary Friday night in London (you can hear the revellers outside) and we are just some ordinary, theatre-loving people here in a rather ordinary black box theatre. The four-hander Ordinary Days concerns, as the title suggests, four rather ordinary characters; a young couple, an English Lit. post-grad student and an artist-cum-professional cat sitter. As is the modern condition, they all want something more from their lives. Student Deb (Nora Perone) wants to prove herself better than her small town upbringing, Warren the struggling artist (Neil Cameron) searches for meaning, Jason (Alistair Frederick) wants to move in with girlfriend Claire and deepen their commitment, whilst Claire (Kirby Hughes) just wants to move on… Through the course of the one-act show they must learn to makes peace with their present in the hustle and of bustle of New York. To shift their focus from an imagined extraordinary future, to find meaning in and appreciation of their seemingly ordinary days.
All four performers bristle with energy, their gutsy, un-mc’d vocals pouring out in abundance and filling the small, almost bare stage space with a business verging on the chaotic. The score, performed by musical director Rowland Brache, pelts along – you have to act quickly to get some applause in! It barely lets up! Props, like the set, are also kept to a minimum, testament to the meaning (and inevitably budget) of the piece, this is not a musical for spectacle but for heart. The New York cityscape splashed on the back wall forms the only scenery, and is all it needs.
Perhaps it’s something to do with currently being a grad student myself, but Nora as Deb is to me the stand-out performance of this production. Her wry cynicism with accompanying huffs and eye rolls is laugh-a-minute stuff, and bites playfully (but not too hard) at the sticky-sweetness of Warren’s utopic musings. Kirby as Claire, when uncovered, is an emotional powerhouse with a voice to match, delivering an earnest and impassioned performance.
The following night in London, Saturday June the 3rd, was less than ordinary. Earnest pieces of theatre like this one serve to remind us to appreciate those little moments in the here and now, in the face of the tragic and the unexpected. In the kindness of a stranger like Warren, Clare’s box of trinkets, seemingly insignificant but each one drenched in memories, Ordinary Days asks us to open our eyes to see our own little moments that give our life meaning. We never know when we might really need them.
Produced by Streetlights, People! Productions, playing at London Theatre Workshop until June 17.