Energised, vigorous and cheeky; this production of Our House embodies the spirit of Madness! Far from a karaoke cover, Tim Firth has built intertwining plots and, for the most part, pieced Madness’ classics together to enhance the story, not control it. The impressively athletic Immersion Theatre Company and their superb choreographer Fabian Aloise deserve huge credit for giving this performance ferocious drive – indeed, it is like a Jaguar.
Riotous pace leaps into action with the title song, Aloise establishing a fantastically vibrant NW5 community, with neighbours swinging each other across the stage in a thrilling opening number. The blistering buzz continues in the classroom, as school scenes are littered with rude, obnoxious yet adorable poses which have us wishing to be back in Baggy Trousers. Jason Kadji (Joe) and George Sampson (Reecey) show their dancing prowess within these ensemble numbers, whilst cackling hyena schoolgirls Billie and Angie (Etisyia Philip & Jessica Niles) are a delight right through the show and deserve individual recognition.
Contrasting with the House of Fun, director James Tobias orchestrates sensitive moments with chilling effect. Onlooking Callum McArdle, as the deceased Dad, tinges his strong singing voice with frustrated warning, giving an inevitability about the events that proceed and a sense of helplessness from both audience and character. Similarly, Sophie Matthew’s solos are sweet and heartfelt, balancing the piece with gravitas which musicals can overlook or approach without sincerity.
Understandably deserving of its Olivier Award, Our House is well worth a watch, whether you are searching for the twists and traumas of a dual-narrative or wish to dig out your sunglasses and fedora to stomp the night away. Either way, catching this touring party twice would not be One Step Beyond.
Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield
Until Saturday 19th Aug, 19:45 & Matinees