25th June 2019
Central Theatre, Chatham, Kent
Type of Production
Caroline Ferguson and Francesca Coote
Author: Doreen Grierson
Our House was a first for me. This is a musical by Tim Firth with songs exclusively by the 1980s' band Madness. This production was packed with drive and energy from start to finish with 100% commitment by the whole cast, due to the direction by Jimmy Marabello-Weighell and inventive choreography by Caroline Ferguson and Francesca Coote. The set was uncomplicated but very suitable with white and black doors turned round by cast members to denote when Joe was ‘good’ or ‘bad’. The band led by MD Siobhan Walls by the very nature of the music was loud at times making dialogue difficult to hear. Lighting design by David Beaumont, as always so important, was well executed.
The plot is somewhat complicated and at times unclear. It follows the life of Joe Casey (Charlie Grant) starting on his sixteenth birthday. He is trying to impress a girl he likes and breaks into a building. This is where there is the clever concept of splitting the narrative into two intertwining outcomes, with Good Joe dressed in white and Bad Joe dressed in black. Charlie had the difficult and demanding task of portraying Joe following two different paths but his energy, especially with all those quick changes, and commitment to this role was admirable. He was well supported both vocally and dramatically by his girlfriend, Sarah played by Elizabeth James. Ben Smyth was impressive in the difficult role of Joe’s deceased Dad. Ryan Blackamore as bad boy Reecey even had a few boos at his curtain call so he must have convinced some of the audience! Particularly watchable were Paul Ferguson and Adam James as Emmo and Lewis. They provided the comedic element and they worked well together. All the other supporting cast and in fact every member on stage, with the many changing characters, added so much to the production.
You have to draw your own conclusions as to whether the Madness songs fit in with the script but there is no denying that this is an enjoyable energetic show which the cast must have had great fun putting together.