Review: Our House at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry

Book: Tim Firth

Music: Madness

Director: James Tobias

Choreographer: Fabian Aloise

It’s been 15 years Since Our House premiered in London. After a few script tweaks and the introduction of a new song, this gritty and gripping musical is storming the Country once more.

Director James Tobias fully explores and develops Tim Firth’s script to convey a sense of community on the stage. Using the full ensemble for nearly all of the production enhances this.

The charm of Our House is Firth’s ability to conjure a strong script around already created music. In this case, Madness’ songs fit around the plot like a snug glove. The only exception is  NW5, which led to some of the emotion being lost by actress Sophie Matthew who plays Sophie; Joe’s love interest.

Jason Kajdi takes the central role of Joe Casey in his stride. Although, at times he could further delve deeper into the two sides of his character and the different paths they follow. His connection with actress Deena Payne who plays his mum Kath and Callum McArdle who plays his Dad create highly tense emotional moments that are moving.

The slick choreography by Fabian Aloise is performed by the whole company with enthusiasm. Wings of a Dove and Baggy Trousers are two particular numbers where the stage lit up. The ensemble not only tackles the choreography but also develop strong characterisation that enhances the fun of each of the characters they play. Billy Roberts and Will Haswell who play Emo and Lewis are prime examples of this.

A well-developed story seems a rare occurrence in a jukebox musical and so it’s pleasing to see Our House is different. The youthful cast under the direction of Tobias has added a daring, courageous and sometimes cocky look at how black and white are not normally how life works out.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

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