Hatty Tagart enjoys a lighthearted performance of Ordinary Days from Tone Deaf Theatre Company.
Ordinary Days is a delightful musical detailing two couples navigating the testing realities of life, relationships and mishaps in New York City. Directed by Natasha Ali on behalf of Tone Deaf Theatre Company, the production captured the quirky characters and witty humour that I was hoping for from one of my favourite musicals.
Performed on a rather bleak Monday night, the production was a vibrant and energetic pocket of entertainment in the otherwise seemingly deserted Trevelyan College, and, from Ali’s directors note, ‘fun’ was the main aim. The set was minimal, two creatively-utilised chairs and some paintings by Amber Conway (which are available to bid on!) to note the musical’s motif of art, a device used to connect the characters, which was supported by the creative choice to use primary colours in the costume, props and lighting to represent the character’s various emotional states. Ali’s direction was simple and effective, not overdoing any movement or expression in the small and personal space and instead letting the actor’s nuanced performances shine for themselves, which was definitely the right call.
It is safe to say that the musical was brought to life by its collection of four cast members, passionately embodying the eclectic personalities of their characters. Ben Osland commences the show with his charmingly naïve Warren, who immediately engaged the audience with an infectious energy and a flyer enthusiastically flung into the face. Osland displayed an impressive vocal range and animated characterisation that was offset amusingly by Naomi Cook as the reluctant-to-become-friends Deb. Cook’s musicality is impossible to critique, however a little more diction could benefit her performance, particularly so the audience doesn’t miss any word of her hilarious songs, her comedic timing being my biggest highlight of the show. With a heavy dose of cynicism and side-eye, Cook perfectly encapsulates Deb’s sarcastic and relatably scornful demeanour. Jonny Hewitt delivered an enjoyable performance as Jason, optimism-incarnate in a bright yellow jumper, and thriving most in his engaging solo numbers. Hewitt could do with a touch more confidence in his duets, as an impressive vocal range seemed to be sometimes held back, but this was balanced out by his compelling characterisation of the well-meaning but slightly oblivious Jason. The standout performance of the night came from Izzy Mackie as Claire, blending the ideal combination of humour and vulnerability, a flair for encapsulating every audience member, allowing her gradual exposure of her character’s tragic backstory to be all the more heart-wrenching. Mackie fully earns the emotional reaction she receives from the audience in her sensitive and stripped back solo number ‘I’ll be here’, another of the evening’s highpoints.
A nod must also be given to Fergus Carver, delivering the entirety of the music on a singular piano. Carver’s faultless piano performance can almost go unnoticed by how seamlessly it is executed but it perfectly encapsulates the dynamic and charming atmosphere of the rest of the production.
On the whole, Ordinary Days is a lively and polished piece of entertainment, that, as Ali points out in her director’s note, is a lovely contrast to a lot of the intense and hard-hitting drama we see in Durham, and is sure to inject a bit of fun into the dreary November evenings.
Ordinary Days will be playing at the Dowrick Suite, Trevelyan College, on 28th and 29th November.