Pros: A small but perfectly formed company of players at the top of their game.
Cons: A studio theatre with no ventilation on the one of the hottest nights of the year, sat on top of a pub was a challenging combination!
The London Theatre Workshop is something of a travelling roadshow, having moved from its Fulham base to the plush surroundings of Leadenhall Market in the City of London. Set above the New Moon pub in Gracechurch Street, the workshop now has a convenient location within a five minute walk of Liverpool Street station. A deceptively large theatre space lies at the top of an ever winding staircase; a bottle of complimentary water at the top was a welcome gesture, particularly on a sultry summer evening.
Ordinary Days tells the story of four New Yorkers struggling to make sense of modern life in the Big Apple. We have Claire, who has just moved in with boyfriend Jason. Claire has doubts about committing to Jason and is still troubled by the past. Jason, in contrast, is ready to settle down with Claire and is waiting for the right moment to propose. Meanwhile, Warren is an artist who’s lost his sense of direction, and searches for inspiration handing out flyers featuring words of wisdom. He meets Deb, a ditzy college student looking for her missing thesis. So begins a tale of parallel lives looking for happiness and peace of mind.
For a musical that’s sung through, the songs need to adequately replace the lost narrative. The show scores a massive tick here as the songs are bright, memorable and at times very funny, particularly Big Picture and I’ll Be Here. However, while it purports to be a parallel lives story, the characters rarely overlap; aside from a brief scene in an art gallery there’s no suggestion they are even remotely connected. With only four characters there is admittedly limited opportunity to devise plot intricacies. Also, a running time of around 70 minutes allows little space for character development. Even so, you sense the potential of a Love Actually-style hit musical with the addition of more characters to the ensemble.
The cast are bright, attractive and note perfect throughout the production, and performed heroically in stifling temperatures. Kirby Hughes looks and sounds beautiful as Claire; Alistair Frederick is a self-assured Jason; Neil Cameron carries the role of Warren with style and sensitivity; while Nora Perone shows a great sense of comic timing as Deb. A thoroughly enjoyable show was undermined only by the heat in an airless, windowless performance area. Whilst the bottled water was appreciated, the atmosphere was stifling with so many people crowding into a small space. Sat atop a pub, people wrongly assumed they would find a bar at the top of the stairs. It proved to be the only downside to an otherwise great night out.
Music and Lyrics: Adam Gwon
Director: Jen Coles
Musical Director: Rowland Brache
Producer: Streetlights, People! Productions by arrangement with R&H Theatricals Europe
Booking Link: http://londontheatreworkshop.co.uk/ordinary-days-2/
Booking Until: 17 June 2017