Anyone who has been to Trafalgar Studios 2 will be aware of the seating in the theatre; it’s much like the Almeida theatre where two people share a seat which should ideally be large enough to accommodate them. Last night, I found myself having to share a seat with a man who left me less than a third of the seating space. My heart dropped as soon as I walked in and saw him but as the performance was only for 80 minutes, and as it was a sold out performance last night, I decided to brave it.
In such a grim situation, I was praying for a gripping performance to fully immerse myself into. What I got, however, was an affable but not an enthralling one.
Ordinary Days , a musical by Adam Gwon, is about the lives of four New Yorkers whose lives are linked together, and especially so, when they converge at the Metropolitan Museum on a Saturday afternoon. It is also a study of two sets of relationships – a young couple who have just started to live together; and a grad student who forms a friendship with an artist’s assistant from whom she has retrieved her lost notes. What all four characters have in common are frustrations that are borne out of living in a city and a yearning for something better in their lives. The stark set design successfully forces the audience to visualise and feel the energy, the urgency and the architecture of New York. This is quite an achievement in an intimate theatre. Well delivered by the cast, the songs are catchy and help to move the plot along without any spoken narrative or grand gestures.
There are strong performances from both the female characters in this musical. Alexia Khadime who plays the grad student, Deb, is a joy to watch. Not only has she got an amazing voice but she sings all of her songs with subtle body and facial movements, giving the audience much to laugh at and with her character. Julie Atherton, who plays the complex Claire trying to embark on a new life with her recently moved in boyfriend, deserves the plaudits of the audience. Juxtaposed with these strong performances, the male characters sometimes seem to be playing second fiddle to the female ones.
Londoners will find it easy relate to Ordinary Days as it reminds us of how, despite our own ordinary days and lives, we all have something interesting to tell and how much our lives are intertwined with strangers. But there is a niggling feeling that not enough is explored in this musical to do real justice to metropolitan living and all that comes with it but, then again, it is difficult to do so within a 80 minute show. Where this musical disappoints is its ending which tapers off to a sugar-coated and familiar (and therefore an ordinary) one.
Ordinary Days is on at Trafalgar Studios and runs till 5 March.