‘Perfectly Ordinary’ premiered as part of the Guildford Fringe Festival in 2018, it is a new British musical with book and lyrics by Matthew Rankcom and music by Joe Wilson completed in 2017. Under co-direction by Samantha Dye and writer Matthew Rankcom ‘Perfectly Ordinary’ has had a successful run gaining credibility in the theatrical world with its four-star reviews throughout.
‘Perfectly Ordinary’ is based on ‘lilac ward’ a Psychiatric Unit somewhere in the UK and tackles growing problems within the mental health system. The scenes and events are based on real life situations and inspired by real people according to the writers, the characters are relatable to residents within the psychiatric ward with with conditions such as dementia, psychosis, alcohol addiction and withdrawal, paranoia, dramatic swings, violent and suicidal traits. The new musical aim is to raise awareness of mental health issues through the medium of musical theatre with its 90 minutes script and lyrics, where it boldly addresses the issues head-on through a fly on the wall focus of events ‘Pinky’ (Natalie Williams) as the nurse in charge being the key role.
Hope Mill Theatre Is one of my personal favourite theatre spaces with its versatile venue allowing the audience an intimate auditorium to watch performances. The audience was situated and seated at the side of the set and to the front creating an enclosed Birdseye view of the show and engaging the audience throughout. The set design by Frankie Gerrard was simple but effective with pill bottles illuminated as the stage definition, a simple hospital bed and the infamous ‘door of freedom’ evident by decorative floodlights exhibited.
Adadm Braham’s phenomenal casting of the seven characters for the musical provided the script and lyrics authenticity and injected life into the roles. It’s clear the cast have worked hard in defining their roles as each and every one of them gave justice to their character as we witnessed some difficult and light-hearted scenes throughout the 90 minutes performance.
‘Perfectly Ordinary’ explores a wider range of issues that invite you to question whether anybody is truly perfectly ordinary and what being ‘normal’ even means, looking at self awareness and reflection of individual’s needs - and is there a difference between living and surviving as life isn’t always easy for every individual on this earth.
As an ex nurse myself I could relate to the role of Pinky the most as a tired and overworked member of the NHS in a relentless job of looking after others, investing in your patients sometimes at the expense of your own family. She represents many in the depleted NHS as being overstretched and working tirelessly to keep up with the demands of her shift. The highlight being when Natalie Williams as a Pinky sang ‘Mother to Who’ summing up brilliantly the feelings of a working mother in the NHS.
Peter Noden as ‘James’ delivered a sterling performance as an alcoholic withdrawing and the destructive consequences of alcoholism out in society within work and relationships, with a phenomenal powerful rendition of ‘invincible’ displaying how he felt whilst intoxicated.
Kate Landy as ‘the girl’ a Harry Potter specialist and self-declared wizard added warmth and vulnerability to her role softening some of the difficult scenes with her magic. My particular favourite character was ‘Eileen’ played by Pippa Winslow a dementia patient who continually waited for her beloved husband Henry to collect her - only to be told repeatedly that he had died devastating her on each occasion. Winslow never faulted in her role and clearly had studied dementia patients as her mannerisms were authentic and characteristic of a person with this debilitating condition. Her rendition of ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ was touching and poignant.
Suzie (Kelly Hampson) with her infatuation and idea of having a son tragically played out with Noah (Alfie Doohan) through the script highlighting the power of a bereft mother and the overwhelming love she has towards a child, her solo of ‘My Boy’ was heart wrenching and significant for any parent.
This new musical is solid and robust and has huge potential as it sensitively tackles issues of mental health. A huge credit to the directors, musical director and choreographer who have created a golden nugget of musical theatre.
Well done to all involved and good luck in the forthcoming tour to Surrey and the Edinburgh fringe in August.
The show continues its run at Hope Mill Theatre until the 24th of July 2019 with tickets still available.
I would highly recommend ‘Perfectly Ordinary’ as a must-see show.
Reviewer: Grace Kelly
Reviewed: 22nd July 2019
North West End Rating: ★★★★