From the University of Southampton Gone Rogue theatre company bring Adam Gwon’s 2008 musical
Overall the vocals are decent but unmemorable
Ordinary Days follows the life of four young New Yorkers as they navigate an anonymous city that never sleeps. The idea that dominates the narrative is that lives interact in ways you don’t ever see. Deb (Bella Norris) is a young cynic who is desperately trying to finish her thesis but leaves her notes on the subway. Warren (Josh Vaastra) loves his city and is always exploring it, collecting tidbits he finds along the way. One of these tidbits is Deb’s notebook; he tries to befriend her when he returns it but Deb isn’t having any of it. Jason (Loic Radermecker) moves in with his girlfriend Claire (Phoebe Judd) at the opening of the show and we see them try to navigate the change in their relationship.
Ordinary Days has a beautiful score, played well by pianist Gem Tunley. The cast are of mixed strength vocally. Bella Norris starts weak but quickly gains confidence and by the end of the show is performing the numbers beautifully. Loic Radermecker has a couple of nice sweet-spots in his voice but struggles with the big moments in his songs, which are tricky to begin with. Phoebe Judd’s final song, I’ll Be Here, is perfectly capable of eliciting a tear, but it has a lot to do with the song. Overall the vocals are decent but unmemorable.
The acting is, again, a mixed bag. The piece seems a little under-directed and a little over-rehearsed. The movement is often static and contrived and exaggerates the song-cycle nature of the musical more than it need do. Radermecker is the only one who performs any kind of ‘choreography’ – although to call it this is probably an overstatement. He moves woodenly and it feels awkward to watch. His performance comes across as often self-indulgent and it is hard to believe in his feelings for Claire while he constantly navel gazes. On the other hand, Josh Vaastra, while not being the most stand-out singer or actor, has a presence to him that makes him deeply watchable. A redeeming factor in a production that is mostly little better than average, Josh brings real heart to every scene he is in. You can’t help but root for this guy.
I enjoyed this production because I enjoy Ordinary Days. However, it is uninspiring for your first foray into this beautiful score. Although the little acting involved makes it bearable as I’m not sure the cast could cope with a more strenuous acting musical. If you’re new to Adam Gwon’s work it is probably best to hold off for a stronger production, as it has some truly beautiful moments in it that aren’t fully executed by this young company.