Our House – Review – Wakefield Theatre Royal
Our House – Review
Wakefield Theatre Royal, September 2017
by Steve Crabtree – @stevecrab
One day, someone woke up and thought it would be a good idea to get the songs of Madness, tie them together to form a story and create a musical out of them. Quite why they thought that… who knows? But when I heard about Our House I was intrigued. I wondered how it could possibly work, and I wanted to see it. That’s why I’m at the wonderful house-of-fun that is the Theatre Royal in Wakefield, to watch the Wakefield Youth Music Theatre perform this award winning Tim Firth production.
As ever at the Theatre Royal, we’re greeted and made welcome by the lovely team, and we make our way to our seats shortly before the show begins, and the industrial looking set looks high-end, and impressive. And as the lights go down and the show begins, the entire cast bombard on to the stage as the signature tune of the show begins. A high octane and astounding dance routine delivers the life and energy that we’re going to be getting for the next couple of hours.
Directed and choreographed by Louise Dennison; Our House is set in Camden and based around the confident Joe Casey, a young lad who lives with his widowed mum in Casey Street. On his 16th birthday he tries to impress his sweetheart Sarah, which is where this coming-of-age musical unfolds into a story of love and decisions. Right-and-wrong decisions.
It’s a lively and upbeat storyline, delivered at a good pace, and has a certain grit about it. Gradually, and astutely, Madness favourites such as ‘My Girl’, ‘Michael Caine’, ‘Baggy Trousers’ and ‘Driving in My Car’ are fused in to the story. And somehow these songs complement that story. They fit in very well indeed.
Over the opening acts, we quickly see that the cast are a group of actors who have an abundance of talent. They can dance, act, perform, and make us laugh. Promising and talented young actor Ethan Marescaux is giving a stellar performance as the likeable Joe, pulling off the naïve and the cocky side of him really well.
We hit interval time a little over an hour in to the show, and whilst queuing for the bar I’m overhearing plenty of comments from people sharing the same thoughts as me. “You can’t help but tap your feet” and “it’s brilliant isn’t it?”.
We see Joe, Sarah and their friends develop into young adulthood in the second half of the performance. Their decision making, past and present, play a major part in everyone’s future – and we who are watching are gripped.
Songs ‘Wings Of A Dove’ and ‘Embarrassment’ are the big numbers in this section of the show, and many of the people in the theatre are singing along. The comical ingredient in to the drama is perfectly executed. Joseph Robinson and Adam Lovell play Emmo and Lewis, Joe’s friends; and they deserve a special mention for their incredible comic timing and ability to make the entire audience laugh to the point where they have to pause before they can deliver their next line.
Sarah’s scatty friends Angie and Billie are played by Sophie Downham and Emma Chapman; who also have us howling with sublime visual comedy, and hilarious body language and mannerisms. And Charlotte McCamley (Sarah) steals the limelight when she sings ‘It Must Be Love’.
Our House is an entertaining show, which has given the large audience a great night here in Wakefield. When the show ends, and the cast takes a bow the entire audience give them a well deserved standing ovation.
Tim Firth’s idea of making this musical certainly worked. And the Wakefield Youth Music Theatre must take masses of credit for delivering it so well. I’ve really enjoyed tonight, and I could genuinely watch their performance all over again.