The 19th of March 1985, and I was sat in an office with a pen in one hand and a piece of paper in the other. At that point, I had a choice to make that would change my life forever. Did I sign and join the RAF or not sign and go off to a different life? Obviously, I signed but, every so often, I do wonder what my life would have been like if I’d just said ‘no’ and left the recruiting office on that day. We never get to see what the alternatives to our decisions would have been but in Immersion Theatre’s touring production of Our House, which I caught as it arrived at Bromley’s Churchill Theatre, one young man gets a chance to try both versions of reality.
Today is Camden lad Joe Casey’s (Jason Kajdi) sixteenth birthday and he wants to do something special with his new girlfriend Sarah (Sophie Matthew). Ignoring the suggestions of his two best mates Emmo (Billy Roberts) and Lewis (Will Haswell), Joe takes Sarah to a building site and breaks into one of the new Pressman (Bobby Windebank) apartments so that he can show her the view of Casey Street and especially No 25 where he lives with his mum Kath (Deena Payne), who has done a sterling job of bringing him up since the disappearance of his dad (Callum McArdle). As the two lovebirds look down on the old Camden street, the police arrive and Joe has to make an immediate decision – stay and get caught or run. Whatever he decides in that moment will inevitably set the fate for the rest of his life.
Written by Tim Firth and with music by Madness, Our House was a winner right from the start for me and my companion. We had both seen the production previously and were eagerly looking forward to seeing this one. And it didn’t disappoint in any way, shape or form. Whilst some, so called, jukebox musicals have a horrendously thin plot around which to fill the stage with the music of who or whatever they are celebrating, Our House has a nicely intense plotline as we follow the two versions of Joe’s life simultaneously. This is done by some extremely nifty footwork on the part of Jason Kajdi in the role of Joe with some very subtle changeovers between him and a body double as he slips between the two stories.
The marvelous thing about Jason’s performance is that not only does he have to change clothes but he also has to change character but still be Joe. So in one version, Joe is confident to the point of arrogance, smartly dressed and assured whilst in the other, he is the complete opposite, timid, afraid, looked down upon and belittled. Brilliant acting by Jason. Of course, the rest of the cast have to play the two stories out as well and, once again, they do it superbly. I really loved the running commentary supplied by Sarah’s two best friends – Billie (Etisyai Philip) and Angie (Jessica Miles) who are smart, witty, very funny and have more sass than anyone I have never encountered. Also worth mentioning here is George Sampson as bad boy Reecey. A lovely performance full of menace, George plays Reecey as the sort of chap who would do you a favour but you would be paying him back for a long, long time.
All told then, a first-rate cast who Director James Tobias and Choreographer Fabian Aloise make earn their money with an extremely energetic show. Having a large stage to perform on, the cast can do some really big numbers from the opening number ‘Our House’ through to the finale, which had virtually everyone on their feet, Our House is a high octane show from start to finish.
Highlights for me? Well, there were many. As a danced number, Baggy Trousers’ was one that really stood out for me with its energy and sheer joie de vivre. And I think that sums up the show well. The stage was full of energetic actors who seemed to be having the time of their lives. Having such popular music helped but the reality is this production has so much more. A good, well-developed plot line – with more than a passing reference to the gentrification of parts of London – that looks at the choices we make and how they affect not just ourselves but everyone around us. Fantastic music, that got audience member’s heads bobbing right from the off. A well designed and highly flexible set by David Shields and a truly outstanding cast. Our House really does have it all.
Review by Terry Eastham
On the night of his 16th birthday, Joe Casey takes the girl of his dreams, Sarah, out on their first date. In an
effort to impress her with bravado, Joe breaks into a building site overlooking his home on Casey Street.
When the police turn up, a split-second decision forces him to choose between himself and his heart as the
story splits in two: one which sees Joe stay to face the music, and the other which sees him flee and leave
Sarah to run from the police. As two very different paths unfold before him, the consequences of that choice
will change his life forever.
The full cast includes:
George Sampson as Reecey
Deena Payne as Kath Casey
Jason Kajdi as Joe Casey
Sophie Matthew as Sarah
Callum McArdle as Dad
Billy Roberts as Emmo
Will Haswell as Lewis
Etisyai Philip as Billie
Jessica Niles as Angie
Bobby Windebank as
Matthew McDonald as Callum/Ensemble
Alex Tranter as On-stage swing
Michael Nelson as On-stage swing
Frances Dee as On-stage swing
Lottie Henshall as Ensemble
Huon Mackley as Ensemble
Venue: Churchill Theatre, High St, Bromley BR1 1HA
Dates: UK Tour
Press night: 25th October, 7.30pm
Running time: 115 minutes (including interval)
Tuesday 24 – Saturday 28 October 2017
Bromley, Churchill Theatre