Our House, performed with gusto by Cassio OS, is an award-winning musical based on the songs of Madness. Joe Casey has turned 16, and to impress his new girlfriend he breaks into a new development. As the police arrive he is faced with a choice – run away or stay and face the music. This 'sliding doors' moment is central to plot as from this point onwards, Joe's subsequent years are played out in parallel, literally in black and white costume. Is Joe destined to make the same mistakes as his absent father, and turn to the tempting 'lion's den' of crime? Is it a 'Simple Equation' of wrong versus right?
Many of the best Madness songs focus on memories of growing up and coming of age, and so fit comfortably into the narrative structure. The ensemble cast have tremendous fun, performing the schoolyard song 'Baggy Trousers' in particular with verve and enthusiasm, and the music is played well by Martin Smith's band. Matt Fowler plays the central role extremely capably, despite arguably being a little old for it, combining charisma and self-pity with strong vocals. His duet with Saoirse Brewer as Sarah – 'It Must Be Love' – is one of the highlights of the second act.
Joe's Dad, returning to observe the events with horror, and narrate proceedings, is played with an almost ghostly presence by Adrian Barrett, while Julie Lilley is both believable and tuneful as Joe's mother. The central cast is strongly supported: Jenny Emanuel and Emma Barry are just trashy enough as Sarah's friends, and Paul Egan's Reecey is a charming smiling villain, while Sam Gaines and Gareth Lewis perform well as Joe's mates, the rendition of 'My Girl' down the pub working particularly effectively.
There were some small technical issues involving microphones, sliding doors, and the occasional pause in the flow, but the audience didn't mind, and the cast were clearly enjoying themselves. The highlight of the ensemble performances was the rendition of 'Wings of a Dove' as a post-Vegas wedding celebration, while the more evocative 'The Sun and The Rain' was carried off with great aplomb. Judging by the audience reaction, the smiles on the faces of the cast at the end and the tunes ringing in our ears on the way home, 'Our House' can be considered a success.
09 Nov 10