our house

Our House

Malvern Theatres


As we are both appreciative of the music of Madness we were sincerely hoping that this jukebox musical that celebrates the songs of the north London band would be right up our street.

Surely it is a simple equation that songs which feature realistic people and stories would very easily fit around a modern day musical. Sadly the book written by Tim Firth didn’t manage to realise that equation.

Telling the story of a young 16-year-old Joe Casey (Jason Kajdi) trying to win the affections of his girlfriend Sarah (Sophie Matthew), Our House attempts to show the consequences of making the right or the wrong decisions in life.

By running two sides of the story side by side, amidst a series of moving doors and rather loud thunder crashes and lightning strikes, it is very easy to lose the plot!

In an attempt to make this different from other jukebox musicals by adding meaning and strong storyline, Tim Firth’s book seems to have complicated things far too much and it results in a very disjointed and at times tedious storyline.

Despite the curtain going up15 minutes late (with no explanation), there was great promise of a thoroughly enjoyable show with the rousing opening number, Our House which was energetic and engaging. The promise was, however, short lived.

The music was far too loud throughout and overshadowed the dialogue, resulting in the cast, despite wearing microphones, having to shout their lines in order to be heard. However, not all were able to manage it and sadly many of the lines were lost.

The staging and the pace was frenetic, lines being spoken (or shouted ) at a rate of knots perhaps in the hope of making up time after the late start. Doors whirling around the stage amid noisy and messy transitions added to the chaos.

our house 2


General characterisation was lacking with little or no chemistry between characters, again this was due to the hectic pace and constant to-ing and fro-ing between storylines.

It has to be said that the cast did their utmost to entertain the audience, with some great vocals (when they could be heard above the cacophony) and superb dancing. The energy was endless and it was no mean feat performing at that consistently rapid pace throughout the entire show.

Callum McArdle, as Dad, gave the few moments of emotion that were palpable and managed to slow the pace down sufficiently to convey the regret that his character had and the hope that his son would not follow in his footstesps.

George Sampson, as the off the rails bad boy Reecey was convincing and thoroughly believable in his role, as well as adding some exceptional dance routines.

Memorable moments were thin on the ground but references to a musical condom that played, The Power of Love on reaching climax, that using a femidom was ‘like having sex with an Asda bag', and a take on the market scene from Oliver (Who will buy) ‘ripe, cannabis ripe’ did manage to raise a smile.

Some pretty quick costume changes and body doubling allowed Jason Kajdi as Joe, to be in two places almost simultaneously and that was clever and effective.

The whole cast gave some very strong song and dance routines and have to be complimented on their stamina and energy, they certainly worked hard. The fabulous finale was one redeeming feature which ensured the production ended on a high note. The Madness songs were very much appreciated by the audience and die hard Madness fans would certainly enjoy the show, but if you are looking for something more than a House of Fun you may be on the Night Boat to Cairo.

Despite the very best efforts of the cast Our House had rocky foundations, lacked the cement that should have held it together and should be a candidate for redevelopment! To 16-09-17.

Rosemary Manjunath and Elizabeth Smith


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