As I am a big Madness fan, I was looking forward to seeing ‘Our House’ at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre. Not knowing that much in advance about the story, other than it was based on the songs of Madness, I expected a sort of light ‘Mamma Mia’ type show. I was also looking forward to some fantastic dancing as I have seen Bilston Operatic Company productions before.
The story was actually a lot more intense and intelligent than I expected. It is briefly a kind of ‘Sliding Doors’ idea about a young man (Joe Casey) who turns 16 and to impress a girl (Sarah) breaks into a house to shelter from the rain. He then has to make the choice of whether to do the right thing and hand himself over to the police, or to follow in the footsteps of his late father in a life of crime.
The show then cleverly tells the story from each perspective, sometimes simultaneously! The paths are not as clean cut as you might expect and there are a lot of twists along the way.
This intriguing story is all played out to the songs of Madness and credit must be given to the fantastic orchestra. Many classic hits are featured in scenes as well as the title track, including ‘My Girl’ (which I found hilarious!); ‘Baggy Trousers’ which had outstanding choreography; ‘Embarrassment’, which contained a truly hilarious moment; ‘Driving In My Car’, ‘Wings of a Dove’ and rather surprisingly ‘Sun and Rain’ and ‘Night Boat to Cairo’.
It is really apparent the amount of effort that Bilston Operatic Company have gone to from their energy and enthusiasm. Although the theatre wasn’t completely full, the excited audience reaction, particularly at the end, made it sound as if it were, especially with the roaring applause.
I appreciated the subtle homage given to ‘Grease’, ‘Titanic’ and ‘Oliver!’ and the show somehow carried off taking the audience on a roller-coaster of emotions; laughing hysterically at some witty moments, yet leaving you with a lump in your throat at others!
The cast has been well thought out and all perform to a high standard including Benjamin Evans as Joe Casey and Abi Strudwicke as Sarah. Sue Towler gave an enigmatic performance as Kath, Joe’s Mum as did Mike James who part narrates the story as Joe’s Dad in Ghost form!
Credit should also be given to Jacob Kohli who plays the shifty ‘Reecey’. At just 15 years old he has acting and vocal ability way beyond his years!
If you’re a Madness fan or a fan of musical theatre with a great story, you will not be disappointed with Our House.