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Wednesday, 25 July 2018

REVIEW: Perfectly Ordinary at G Live in Guildford

Set in the psychiatric ward of an NHS hospital, this stirring new musical with book and lyrics by Matthew Rankcom and music by Joe Wilson is a poignant exploration of six inpatients; their past, their daily routines and their journey to feeling ‘ordinary.’ 

Wilson’s score is varied – from patter-like songs such as ‘New Best Friend’ to arpeggiated ‘Absence’ but the overall feel is one of fitting calm. Bookmarking beginning, middle and end is the beautiful Sunrise; each person sings their own individual part layered on the other, but together they produce one sound. Indicative of their shared experiences, their common truth, their normality. 

What is particularly fascinating is the staggering self-awareness written into these characters. With skill, Ranckom has afforded them the cognitive ability to reflect on both past actions and thoughts about the future and to articulate profoundly. Rarely, but albeit occasionally this becomes a little sweeping, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility to assume that these life-altering conditions afford the patients a greater perspective. And it is this self-awareness nevertheless which is what makes them so ‘ordinary.’ For every relapse in behaviour, these patients take time to reflect. Some also acknowledge their need to be looked after; there is fear of the outside world which stems from an introspective idea that they have of themselves. “It’s just not my time” is the way one character rationalises their decision to return to the ward. 
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