REVIEW: Ordinary Days – Scottish Storytelling Centre Edinburgh

This review was originally written for The Public Reviews

Music and Lyrics: Adam Gwon

Director: Michael Richardson

Reviewer: Lauren Humphreys

The Public Reviews Rating: ★★★★☆

The Touring Musical Theatre Company, Green Room, was created in 2011 with the aim of: “creating high quality, innovative theatrical productions” with “young, singing actors”. Here they tackle musical theatre wonder-kid Adam Gwon’s Ordinary Days.  From the loss of a notebook, a chain of events is set in motion telling the story of four young New Yorkers whose lives intertwine as they search for fulfillment, happiness and love.

Warren (Darren Niven) an unfulfilled, sensitive, would-be artist is working as an “ambassador” for a more famous graffiti artist (currently in jail, but otherwise living comfortably on a trust fund). When Warren finds a notebook lost by the Virginia Woolf scholar and would-be academic Deb (Sarah Haddath) he arranges a meeting at the Met to return it. Meanwhile Claire (Caroline Hood) quietly endures the loss of her first husband while wrestling with the dilemma of allowing her new partner Jason (Michael Davies) to move into her life and apartment.  Jason is the archetypal 30-something male. Both are also at the Met and each is wrestling with the fact that moving in together seems to be pushing them further apart.

The whole cast is highly talented and engaging, especially Haddath, whose comic timing added life and humour to her character and Hood whose emotive delivery of ‘I’ll be There’, the song that finally interconnects the characters, manages to genuinely move the audience. The adept direction of Michael Richardson ensures that the actors’ delivery is perfectly pitched for the intimate venue of the Scottish Storytelling Centre and musical director Neil Metcalfe’s skill makes you forget that the music is basically one man and his piano –it feels so much richer than that.

If any criticism is to be made, it is with the show, Gwon is a skillful lyricist whose sharp, witty and poignant words are the highlight of the piece, but his melodies need work, and at times it feels that we are revisiting the same song several times. He also needs to show greater character development – I know these are ordinary people but ordinary doesn’t need to be one-dimensional.

The highlight of the evening is seeing these young actors’ accomplished performances. This isn’t a shout it from the rooftops musical, it’s a small-scale, gentle, thoughtful piece about the (often uncaring) times in which we live and ultimately it leaves you with a sense of hope. All it needs is a little extra musical polish to make it great.

 

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