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Ordinary Days

Gareth Beal

DARLINGHURST THEATRE: A musical rom-com with an excellent cast, Ordinary Days boasts a strong narrative structure, but also leans towards sentimentality.
Ordinary Days
Okay, I admit it: I don’t love Sydney. Certainly not the way New Yorkers love New York. ‘The Big Apple.’ Sydney and I don’t have those kinds of nicknames for each other; hell, I’m surprised we’re even on a first-name basis. A play like Ordinary Days, then, so much a love letter to NYC, isn’t something to which I can easily relate.

Written and composed by Adam Gwon, Ordinary Days is a musical sung from first line to last, thereby avoiding the problem of having otherwise believable characters breaking into song (henceforth known as the ‘crazy person effect’). Once you get used to it, it works very well indeed, and Gwon proves to be an inspired lyricist:

Woody Allen heard Gershwin in the air
When he thought ‘Manhattan’.
Well, I’m not so impressed; I hear, like,
Phillip Glass at best.

See? I’m not the only one who doesn’t get the whole ‘I ♥ NY’ thing. Musically, the material doesn’t hit the same high notes, but The Dramatist hails Gwon as ‘one to watch,’ and I’d be inclined to agree with them.

Ordinary Days is the story of Claire (Rachael Beck) and Jason (Michael Falzon), a young couple who have just moved in together. Specifically, it’s Jason who moves in with Claire – the question is: can she make space for him in her life? Deb (Erica Lovell) wants to be anywhere other than where she is: in graduate school, writing a thesis on Virginia Woolf. When she loses her notebook on the subway, it’s discovered by Warren (Jay James-Moody), a good-natured dreamer who spends his days handing out motivational flyers to disinterested passersby (eg ‘The road of life has no map. Let happiness be your compass.’ Yeesh). Underpinning all this is the idea of the big picture, and how these characters fit together in the larger canvas of city life.

The cast here is excellent, with the quirkier characters of Deb and Walter being especially engaging. Erica Lovell has a terrific set of pipes! There are times when a few more lighting and sound effects wouldn’t hurt, but director Grace Barnes and musical director Paul Geddes inject a great deal of energy and movement into proceedings.

A musical romantic comedy, Ordinary Days is typical of rom-coms generally in that it boasts a strong narrative structure, but also leans towards predictability/sentimentality. That isn’t always such a bad thing; if you’re a fan of the genre, this is a good one.

3.5 out of 5 stars

Ordinary Days
Music and lyrics by Adam Gwon
Directed by Grace Barnes
Produced by Jessica Burns and Luke Erickson
Musical direction by Paul Geddes
Performed by Rachael Beck, Michael Falzon, Jay James-Moody and Erica Lovell

Darlinghurst Theatre, 19 Greenknowe Avenue, Potts Point
January 19–February 19, 2012
Info and Bookings: www.darlinghursttheatre.com

Below: Adam Gwon speaks about Ordinary Days ahead of a US production a couple of years ago.

What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Gareth Beal is a freelance writer, editor and creative writing teacher who has written for a range of online and print publications. He lives on the NSW Central Coast with his wife and two cats.

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