Josie Piers and Dean De Klerk in Ordinary Days musical. Pictures: Daniel Rutland
Josie Piers and Dean De Klerk. Pictures: Daniel Rutland

ORDINARY DAYS. Musical by Adam Gwon. Directed by Byron Bure. At Theatre Arts Admin Collective until 3 March 2019.

SHEILA CHISHOLM reviews.

Is there such a thing as an ordinary day? Isn’t it something everyone dreams about – but never gets?  Or when it does, are we capable of recognising it? What exactly is regarded as an ordinary day?

Truth is, an ordinary day means something different to each person. So let’s stay with Warren (Dean de Klerk), Deb (Josie Piers), Jason (Emile Hager) and Claire (Kirsten Murphy) to see if, through the complexities they’ve already woven into their everyday lives, they can find an ordinary day – which in their eyes is a no-mishap-day spent with someone they care about.

Emile Hager and Kirsten Rossiter in Ordinary Days musical. Pictures: Daniel Rutland
Emile Hager and Kirsten Rossiter in Ordinary Days

Refreshing, poignant

That in brief is Adam Gwon’s synopsis behind his remarkably refreshing, poignantly honest contemporary Ordinary Days musical.

The protagonists ages are somewhere in-between 20 and 30. That’s generally a period when the unattached are questioning where they are going, and do they want to go there anyway? Our quartet live in New York. The set comprises a slim-line Big Apple sky-line, and 11 disparate sized black boxes, when moved around, change venue, mood and scenes.

Laid back Warren (tenor), a professional cat sitter (apparently) with no personal ambition, is a real charmer. In a childlike, Good Ol’ Charlie Brown inoffensive way, life for him is simple and uncomplicated (One by One by One). After finding Deb’s notebook in Central Park and after he arranges to return it (Saturday at the Met), life for him takes an unexpected twist.

Deb’s notebook contains her precious thesis for her degree. Distraught at discovering her loss, Deb (mezzo), knowing full well what his negative response will be, frantically writes her professor (Dear Professor Thompson) pleading for exemption from his deadline.

With her big expressive eyes Piers maximises her nervous tension and impatient reaction to every situation… most of all to Warren. Her vexation searching for Warren at the Met (Saturday at the Met) is one of Adam Gwon’s funniest songs.

Jason (tenor) and Claire (soprano) are a couple in trouble. In The Space Between Us Jason sings out his bewilderment over their tormented relationship. Let Things Go is how Claire deals with him. Claire’s snappiness constantly borders on the bad tempered. Only when she reveals her long kept secret, does she show who she really is. Then their relationship stands a chance to heal (I’ll be Here).

The Ordinary Days musical  is no big Oklahoma! large scale musical hit. It’s minimalist in every way.

This production’s success lies in Byron Bure’s intelligent direction of De Klerk, Piers, Hager and Murphy, as well as their intuitive characterisations, which unravel their psychological approach to find their own ways to Ordinary Days. An unusual musical that says all it needs to say in 90 minutes. For wider exposure I’d like to suggest a longer season – soon.

Cape Town stage shows: https://weekendspecial.co.za/stage-on-the-boards/

What: Ordinary Days musical review
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