The ‘Tone Deaf Theatre Company’ certainly delivers with their energetic new production of ‘Ordinary Days’, which expresses the everyday anxieties of modern life and the isolation which comes from living in a big city but in an engaging and heart-warming way.
I wasn’t previously familiar with this musical, but this production definitely won me over. Originally written by Adam Gwon, it turned out to be a perfect choice, working well with such a small cast and very limited set. It follows the simple story of four lost New Yorkers who find connection and peace despite the odds. It was lively and fun, without being too cheesy or artificial, and the director Natasha Ali, managed to maintain the fast-paced, dynamic feel which is so essential to the original.
The humour was also done very well, Naomi Cook sending the audience into peals of laughter with her portrayal of Deb, the stressed and angry (relatable) student who lives the nightmare and loses her thesis, and then subsequently retains it only to be told by her tutor that it is worthless. Deb is a great and unusual character, and Naomi certainly did the emotion and humour of the part justice. Ben Osland was also hilarious in the part of Warren, delivering the child-like optimism of the part well and playing off his counterpart Deb’s cynicism and dead-pan humour.
There were occasionally some pitching and diction issues, some of the lyrics got lost a little in the faster songs, but altogether the four cast members carried all of the challenging musical numbers very well. Izzy Mackie had an amazingly powerful voice, and her solos, especially ‘Let Things Go’, were full of emotion and personality. One of the best songs was the duet ‘Fine’, sung by Izzy’s character Claire and her husband Jason, played by Jonny Hewitt. It was a song in which the couple were having an argument while on their way to a party, and so managed to narrate both of the characters’ opposing thoughts, while showing how well the actors worked together to carry the great humour and intensity of this scene. The emotional range of this production was show in the way the audience were laughing along one minute, to being almost tearful at the song ‘I’ll Be There’, in which Claire tells the heart-breaking story of the death of her first husband in 9/11.
The highlight of the minimal set was the artwork by Amber Conway which was amazing and a made for a great focus point for the musical. They made good use of the link to the artwork, the characters holding them up at pivotal moments, and using them as a metaphor for their emotional state and world view, for example in the song, ‘Big Picture’. A special shout-out to the pianist, Fergus Carver, who acted as the only musical accompaniment to the singers but nevertheless managed to play tirelessly (and flawlessly) throughout. Indeed, the whole production seemed very well rehearsed, and especially impressive for the opening night, there were no noticeable slip-ups. The Dowrick Suite at Trev’s College was surprisingly only a little more than half full, but this didn’t seem to bother the cast, who delivered their roles with a professionalism which was impressive, especially considering how close they were to some of the audience members!
Tickets are still available for the shows on Thursday and Friday (28th-29th), and I would definitely go along to treat yourself to an uplifting escape from uni work, and to support this clearly very hardworking and talented cast and crew!
By Isabel Carmichael-Davis