A minimal staging of Adam Gwon's musical Ordinary Days visits the tiny Trafalgar 2 after a short run at the Finborough in November 2008. With an angular set mimicking a city skyline and acting as shelves to shield the three-piece band, this one act piece has been restaged with a stellar cast but fails to fully deliver.
This is, as Warren (Lee Williams-Davis) sings, something of a New York fairytale - the story of two couples co-existing in Manhattan but never meeting. As Warren, a struggling artist's assistant who really just wants to share his own work with the world, William-Davis fails to find the joy in the geekiness of the character, setting out to find Deb (an impressive Alexia Khadime) and return a book full of lost graduate thesis notes.
For such a small stage Khadime manages to see an impressive amount of it, annoying shuffling almost constantly - albeit playing the ambitious English literature student well and delivering an effortless vocal performance, immediately involking memories of her Wicked belt.
It is Julie Atherton who anchors the piece, immediately capturing the comic and emotional complexities of Claire, struggling to leave the past behind her and embrace the possibilities of a serious relationship with Daniel Boys' Jason.
Atherton and Days' passive aggressive duet "Fine" demonstrates the chemistry the pair - reunited after appearing together in Avenue Q - can bring to the stage. Boys doesn't quite match up to Atherton's stunning performance — admittedly she probably has the best of the score — appearing to throw away some of his best moments in "Hundred-Story City".
Gwon's well written sung-through score and witty lyrics never leave us craving a book, and individual number such as Atherton's beautifully sung "I'll Be Here" have the power to stop the show, but Adam Lenson's production never quite achieves the fluidity it could. Although the characters' stories drift past each other, set against the backdrop of a massive city, the actors portraying them instead appear to storm on and off stage constantly having to navigate the restrictive upstage band.
A strong piece of musical theatre writing which does a solid job of creating characters and stories through its songs, this close quarters production in Trafalgar 2 doesn't quite stand up to the scrutiny.