REVIEW: Our House, Theatre Royal Bath, 5/5, Peter Taberner
FEATURING the music and lyrics of the band Madness to illustrate playwright Tim Firth's storyline, this show hits the ground running with a multi-tasking cast who switch effortlessly and astonishingly quickly between acting, playing, singing and dancing.
We get strongly-narrative lyrics, full of social detail, matched with tracks such as Baggy Trousers and It Must Be Love which fit in perfectly with the complex story of five years in the life of young Joe Casey who is trying to impress his first love, Sarah.
Schooldays and adolescence in the 1970s provide the background to the tale of the battle between the dark side of Joe – peopled with sleazy businessmen and thugs – where he gains apparent success, and his light side. His failures here emphasise his shame about all he tries to achieve.
The richly-drawn characters are Dickensian in their variety. There are dozy blokes, whose only love is cars, and airhead girls.
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The razor-sharp dialogue and brisk choreography add pace to the story.
But there are lots of witty moments to lighten the tension.
This is a big and busy production in which all the cast contribute to a highly-satisfying show. It would be unfair to single out individuals, although Alexis Gerred as Joe achieved one costume change that was worthy of a stage magician.