Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield – until 19 August 2017
Our House is a simple moralistic tale based around the songs of Madness. Its full of fun and this mainly young but talented company breathe life and fun into Tim Firth’s script.
On his 16th birthday, Jo Casey has to make a simple choice – run away or stay and face the consequences. We then follow Jo through his adult life to see how his choices at 16 shaped his adult life. With good Joe forever in an angelic white tracksuit and bad Joe in the black suit, red shirt combo of the devil.
The production is guided by two very strong leads. As Joe Casey, Jason Kajdi has a real presence and energy, while also bringing some lovely facial expressions for the more emotional scenes. Sophie Matthew, playing his love interest, Sarah, has the strongest singing voice of the principals, particularly letting rip in ‘N.W.5’.
Deena Payne is woefully underused in her role as Kath Casey, Joe’s mum. However Callum McArdle as his deceased father, urging Joe not to make the mistakes he did, shines throughout. His Elvis is to be seen to be believed!
George Sampson as Reecey, constantly trying to make Joe into a criminal, shows he’s as good a singer and actor has he is a dancer and wow, can he dance as the finale shows.
Billy Roberts as Emmo, Will Haswell as Lewis, Etisyai Philip as Billie and Jessica Niles as Angie are the best friends of Sarah and Joe and help to carry the narrative with huge stage presence.
Firth cleverly weaves together the stories told by the original songs to deliver an affecting tale, including the joyous sense of community in Our House, the bitter-sweetness at the heart of It Must Be Love, a fun Driving In My Car, delivered while riding a 1950s banger, and a daft House of Fun dance sequence that lived up to that song’s silliness. Even the biggest “Nutty Boys” fan can’t helped to be charmed by how well the story fits the music of Madness. The choreography by Fabian Aloise is fun and energetic and respects the distinctive moves made originally by the band.
A massive special mention must go out to the lightening quick changes made by Kajdi as he went from good Joe to bad in the space of seconds – kudos to whoever was back there helping him, you did a fabulous job.
It’s a smart and emotional piece directed with real energy and excitement, touching on subjects including love, poverty, parenthood, and how communities are pulled apart for profit. Emotional, exhausting and full of fun – you can’t fail to leave with a smile on your face