Ordinary Days is not a musical you may have encountered before. Written by Adam Gwon, it has played off West End and off Broadway since it first appeared in 2008. It's latest incarnation was planned to tour the UK this year but due to ongoing circumstances, changed its plans to become an online production instead - and this is the result.
Filmed in a theatre in Norfolk, this production takes a simple, stripped back approach to staging. Designed by Dan Smith who also directs, Ordinary Days boasts a fairly bare but open stage, flanked with the New York skyline in front of a screen that occasionally animates allowing us to focus all of our attention on to the four actors on the stage - a smart move which speaks to the raw emotion and simplicity of the show rather than make it get lost in unnecessary grandeur.
The cast of four are simply exquisite. Nic Myers, soon to be seen in Back To The Future plays Claire, who has to face her past when her boyfriend Jason, played wonderfully by Will Arundell, wants to push the relationship further. The pair exhibit fantastic chemistry and deliver incredible performances both separately and together. Claire's solo numbers form the emotional centerpiece of the story and prove why Nic Myers is sure to be a force to be reckoned with in the future.
The other pair in the show are slightly more unconventional. Joe Thompson-Oubari brings bounds of charisma and sweetness to Warren, an artist struggling to find his purpose who meets Deb, the most animated character of the show, played brilliantly and often hilariously by Bobbie Chambers - her messages to her Professor provide the funniest moments of the show. Not a romantic pairing but a refreshingly platonic relationship, the pair bounce off each other perfectly, bringing their contrasting personalities to humorous and riveting effect.
All four cast members give their all for the roles they are given, bringing true emotion and personality to the characters. All extremely contrasting but all relatable and all very likeable. They relish at the opportunity to bring this beautiful songbook to life and tell a gorgeous story.
Focusing on one couple at a time, the musical feels slightly reminiscent of The Last Five Years at times, with some musical numbers sounding like they were lifted straight out of it. The story focuses on how the ordinary things are what makes life so extraordinary and how the tiniest of moments can lead to the biggest impact. There's a surprising connection when we delve into Claire's history which is the prime example of how an ordinary day can become extraordinary - I won't spoil what that connection is, but you may want to have the tissues on standby.
As a sung through musical, the songs are what keep the audience captivated. Highlights incluce Claire's big 11 o clock number 'I'll Be Here' and the group number Big Picture'. With musical direction from Ben Barrow, these songs were all brand new to me but resonated immediately and made me want to listen to them again and again.
A simple but beautiful story told flawlessly with stunning songs expertly performed by a fantastic cast make Ordinary Days a winner. Hilarious at times and poignant at others, it is an emotional rollercoaster expertly produced.
Ordinary Days might not have all the bells and whistles we are getting used to by some other virtual productions but is a highly enjoyable piece of theatre regardless and is proof that simplicity can be just as effective at times, resulting in this ordinary little show verging towards the extraordinary.
Ordinary Days streams on demand until Tuesday 6th April from https://www.thetheatrecafe.co.uk/shop/ordinary-days/