Our House – Festival Theatre, Malvern

Book: Tim Firth

Music &Lyrics: Madness

Director: James Tobias

Reviewer: David Robinson

The welcome at the house of fun is a warm and an extremely enthusiastic one, with the toe-tapping sounds of Madness favourites ringing loudly around the auditorium and no doubt being whistled long after the show. The melodious joy is infectious and the predominantly young cast throw themselves into the routines with a fiery and enviable energy. Our House tells the story of Joe Casey (Jason Kajdi) who, at sixteen, finds himself at a moral crossroads: a single decision on the night of his birthday sends his life in two polar opposite directions with sizeable consequences for him and his friends and family.

The story by Tim Firth doesn’t dig too deep and in the end it is those Madness tunes that unapologetically delight throughout, together with the noteworthy choreography of Fabian Aloise brilliantly executed by the tireless ensemble. Direction by James Tobias is crisp and unfussy and he makes effective use of the functional set; designer David Shields has a merry mix of mobile front doors dashing up and down Casey Street at break neck speed.

The evening, in essence, belongs to Kajdi as the good and the bad Joe. He sings and dances with a consummate ease and juggles the two characterisations credibly, as well as handling what must be some chaotic and very speedy backstage costume changes. He is well supported by Deena Payne as Mum and by Billy Roberts and Will Haswell serving up some diverting and amusing comedic moments as Emmo and Lewis. Britain’s Got Talent winner George Sampson as Reecey deftly utilizes his dance skills but is sadly underused and needs to wait patiently for the encores before really allowing himself to shine.

The dynamism of the cast is somewhat let down technically, in the battle of music over vocals, it is the music that achieves the decibels to the detriment of the voice on a number of occasions. The lighting is also distractingly lacking with the spot lights casting their beam around hopefully, trying unsuccessfully to search out a performer or two in the dark in far too many instances.

The band under the excellent direction of Dustin Conrad and the vigour and spirit of the cast create an irresistible mix and bring the audience to their feet for the riotous curtain call. The welcome at Our House is intentional and genuine, it just seems the guests arrived a little too early and the hosts weren’t quite ready.

Runs until 16 September 2017 | Image: Contributed

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The Central team is under the editorship of Selwyn Knight. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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