JUKEBOX shows like Our House are a mixed bag – the plots are tenuous to the point of ludicrous and there is usually an air of desperation to try and fit in the all the big hits of the artist/era/whatever.
So this creation by Tim Firth is a treat, as the Sliding Doors-style plot used the music of 80s favourite Madness to its best advantage and told a great story that echoed Hamlet, Blood Brothers and Chicago with energetic production numbers that made staggering use of the small stage at the Centenary Centre in Peel.
As the evening skanked along, the company danced their hearts out in sequences from a Vegas wedding to a London market.
The tale is basically a moral story about Joe Casey, half of whose nature is good, while the other half is bad and the consequences of the choices that he made.
Joe Hilliard, 17, played both facets with energy and a sense of purpose and stole the hearts of the 30 teenage girls I brought along.
He recently returned from a week in London at the West End Stage School, his prize for winning Young Actor of Mann 2012 – and it shows.
It’s a huge part for a first leading role, but Joe has the sort of face that can soften or harden in a moment; plus he was able to dance whilst wearing three costumes simultaneously. No mean feat. He played his dual role as Good Joe/Bad Joe with a confidence and emotive level that warms the old cockles and made the show a pleasure to watch.
Sarah, the leading lady, played by Abi Newton was a sweetheart, playing opposite both Good Joe and Bad Joe as he made his choices that led him down the path to happiness or ruin. She kept up with Hilliard and was more than a match for him.
They were supported by a great cast and the comedy sat well with the tragedy – the goodies and the baddies made the best of the thin plot line but hey, they managed to squeeze in Last Boat to Cairo in a show based in North London. Kudos.
There was a party atmosphere as the band, suitably attired in fezzes, sunglasses and berets, played up a storm as all the Madness hits skanked past – Los Palmas, Our House, My Girl’s Mad at Me, Baggy Trousers, Embarrassment, Driving in my Car, Tomorrow’s Just Another day, House of Fun, Last Boat to Cairo (yessssss) Wings of a Dove and It Must be Love. I was in skank/2tone heaven.
There was clever choreography and stage direction with the use of backlighting, shadows and film and it only goes to show what, with a lot of imagination, a dedicated cast and crew, and a talented director with vision, can be achieved.
This is the last show to be directed by Jools Morrison for Inspiration Theatre Company. It would be a shame if she gave up directing all together as she has a lot of talent.
Well done all.