Review: GCTC’s Ordinary Days

It’s not uncommon to be unsure of which path in life is the right one to follow. With so much opportunity, but so little knowledge of what is out there, many people fall into a regular routine that involves the same steps repeated over and over again. It’s hard to see the big picture when we feel so small.

The Great Canadian Theatre Company’s Production of Ordinary Days completely captures the finesse of this idea, as it centers around four characters, all attempting to overcome the individual challenges they face in New York City. The play features only four characters and one solo pianist.  

Directed by Eric Coates, there was a clear focus on simplicity. With his skillful direction, he reminded us that a huge cast with an orchestra is not always needed.  

The music and lyrics were created by Adam Gwon, who used his own personal experience to create his music.  He blended the ideas of “when will everything get better” with “I’m done my education, what now?” to create the meaningful and humorous lyrics of Ordinary Days.

All of the characters were relatable in one way or another, whether it be questioning if they chose the right thing to do with their life, or something as simple as being afraid to email a university professor.  

Claire (Jennifer Cecil), is in a relationship with Jason, but is trying to become more committed to him. She is afraid of attachment, and seems to have an issue with letting events from the past go.

Jason (Gab Desmond), is a hopeless romantic, and would do anything for Claire.  He is consistently going out of his way to make her happy, but he cannot fathom why she is so hesitant to open up to him.  At the beginning of the play, you see the couple moving in together, and the rest of the play focuses on how their relationship changes.

Warren (Zach Counsil), is a bumbling weirdo who spends his days handing out pamphlets with inspirational quotes on them.  He is used to the idea of rejection because everyone is moving at such a fast pace that they do not have time to bother with him. He finds an unlikely pal after returning a lost item to them, and convinces them that there is more to life than stress. He is a constant reminder that it’s important to appreciate the little things, and that life is fast paced, but we have to take a break to see the beauty in it.

Deb (Katie Ryerson), is a stressed-out master’s student, who hails from a small town.  She moves to New York to finish her schooling, but finds it too crowded and annoying.  She is constantly burnt out from her research thesis that she has no confidence in, and is wondering if she’ll ever achieve her dreams. She is caught up in the buzz of life, and it is evident from her negative attitude towards everything she approaches. 

The only music played was by the solo pianist Wendy Berkelaar, and the set matched perfectly to the lyrics. Never out of sync with the characters, she did a tremendous job adding to the scenes with every keystroke.  

The structure of the play made it very appealing, as it focused on one character at a time. Through a sequence of solo songs, performed by one character after another, their stories eventually intertwine. The soloist would have the spotlight and sing their song, while the other characters were stills in the background. Duets began to surface after the plot lines synched together. This aspect alone made the play interesting, as there was no real main character. Each one was focused on equally.  

The set was a simple platform that consisted of a set of stairs on each corner, as well as small props used by each of the characters. The minimalistic approach added to the play, as it allowed the audience to use their imagination, but also focus on the lyrics and story.

Ordinary Days is a heartwarming comedy, and a good reminder that it is important to take a step back and not to let life pass us by. The characters are just like us, and we need to recognize that things are going to get better, we just have to see how we fit into the big picture.

The production will run until Nov. 19.