Our House – Madness Musical Lichfield Garrick – Review

Our House – the Madness Musical –
Sutton Coldfield Musical Theatre Company

Lichfield Garrick: Dress Rehearsal Monday 16 October 2017

Went to the dress rehearsal of ‘Our House’ the stage musical using the music of 1980s band Madness last night at the Garrick Theatre. The musical is performed by the brilliant Sutton Coldfield Musical Theatre Company who have a whole host of successful performances at the Garrick tucked under their belts including their last production here of Made in Dagenham.

Our House continues their golden touch with a high tempo, entertaining, toe-tapping (and at times foot stomping!) production with a soundtrack of classic Madness hits from the 1980s as the background music.

Our House tells the story of our hero – and villain – Joe who, after a brief altercation with the police over a minor offence, has to decide whether to give himself up and ‘do his porridge’ or run away and set off on a life where crime really does seem to pay. It’s a ‘Sliding Doors’ situation – we follow honest Joe (dressed in white shell suit) as he steps through one door in the direction of honesty mixed with continual disappointment and then we see villain Joe (dressed in black business suit) as he steps through the door towards dishonesty – but success and wealth. Both Joe’s struggle with their conscience as their mum’s old house (and her own life) become threatened by a greedy, desperate property developer – but will the real Joe stand-up – and who will win the day?

The songs of Madness are sprinkled throughout the two acts – there are songs that are thought-provoking with elements of pathos and teenage angst such as Embarrassment and My Girl but it’s the group ensemble pieces which really hit the mark. Baggy Trousers, Our House and Wings of a Dove are all fantastic and it’s bound to get you singing along and swinging your fists from side to side as you copycat the nutty dance moves of the Madness boys – but please be careful not to punch your seat neighbours!

Matt Branson takes on the double-hander role of ‘light’ Joe and ‘dark’ Joe Casey with aplomb, switching effortlessly between the two characters in a flurry of quick-fire costume changes (so that you do wonder at times if it is the same actor!), Sophie Hammond is lovely as Sarah, the childhood sweetheart of our ‘Joe’s’ and Ben Adams is suitably oily and greasy as the threatening Reecey who tries to drag both Joe’s down into the seedy underworld of Camden’s violence and crime.

The supporting cast, as ever with SCMTC, is very strong and there are plenty of laughs and one-liners from Joe and Sarah’s old school friends. All the cast throw themselves into the group dance and song numbers with typical enthusiasm and joie de vivre – I was exhausted just watching them!

The production is bubbly, bright and bouncy – just right for this type of musical – the backdrops and stage props (including Joe’s old banger of a car!) are all well done and the music is tight and full of 1980s rhythm and beat.

If you want to see a musical where you know every song, every lyric, every dance move (and every shell suit…), a musical which will transport you back to the 1980s of ska and pork pie hats and you want to see a young, enthusiastic cast enjoy every moment – then Our House is for you – I guarantee you’ll be singing, and dancing to, Baggy Trousers all the way home!

Our House runs from Tuesday 17 to Saturday 21 October 2017 (includes Saturday matinee) and tickets are available from the Lichfield Garrick box office on Castle Dyke, ring 01543 412121 for details or via their website at:
www.lichfieldgarrick.com/whats-on/musicals/our-house/59