by guest critic Steven Strauss
Heaps of deserved praise has been showered on Jeremy Herrin’s production of Duncan Macmillan’s People, Places & Things, with much directed at Denise Gough’s thrillingly committed performance of a struggling actor in rehab. Yet after seeing it at Wyndham’s Theatre in mid-2016 then its New York City run this year, it’s easy to see there’s more to it than Gough. A second, transatlantic viewing proves just how thoroughly the production theatricalises addicts’ experiences in order to generate audience empathy with the struggle to overcome addiction.
by guest critic Gregory Forrest
A single piano backs this tongue-in- cheek trip into the lives of four ordinary New Yorkers living out ordinary days. In just 75 minutes we traverse heartbreaks, five-year plans, and the elaborate traffic network which swirls around the Metropolitan Museum of Art. A distinctly American musical about Central Park, Broadway, and groceries from Gristedes, Ordinary Days doesn’t shake up the twenty-first century, but this is certainly a solid production.
I’ve seen sexist theatre. I’ve seen ableist theatre. But it’s rare to come across a show that is so openly and unashamedly both of these things.
Even more frustrating, these aspects of the story are heightened and played for laughs. There’s no commentary or condemnation, just the worst parts of cult movies rolled into one superhero story reliant on anti-women stereotypes. The performances are excellent and there are some great tunes, but the overtly offensive storyline overwhelms any of the production’s positive aspects.