A simple equation of good verses bad: Tim Firth’s award winning Madness musical concerning Joe Casey and his two possible existences is brought to the small stage
In fitting homage to the title, ‘Our House’ was the first Madness number sung in chorus by Hillingdon Musical Society on Saturday.
Their show, Our House, with lyrics and music by Madness and the book by Tim Firth, premiered in the West End in 2003 and won a Laurence Olivier Award for best new musical.
The title song is sung for the central character, Joe Casey, who is celebrating his 16th birthday, and after the conclusion of this party scene, it is Joe’s actions that are definitive for his character and the neighbourhood around him.
After breaking into a construction site to impress his girlfriend, Joe (Mark Bools) is confronted by a life choice when the police arrive: run and live a life of dishonesty, or stay to face the punishment. The audience then witnesses the possible lives of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Joe, although, the juxtaposition of these two depictions can be confusing. However, the actors portraying Joe and his girlfriend, Sarah (Becca Brentnall), both gave striking performances at the Compass Theatre.
Throughout the plot, the haunting presence of Joe’s dead father lingers on stage as a foreboding commentator, impeccably played by Andy Beaven. Providing the comedy were Joe’s sidekicks Lewis and Emmo – a modern day Rosencrantz and Guildenstern – and a cameo role for the director (Kenny Frier) as Shabby Uncle proved hilarious.
Our House defies the tarnished jukebox musical genre with a complex script which details a modern love story, interwoven with the nostalgic sounds of Madness.