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Our House

by on 22 September 2022

It Must Be Love

Our House

by Tim Firth, music and lyrics by Madness

TOPS Musical Theatre Company at Hampton Hill Theatre until 24th September

Review by Heather Moulson

To attend a production by TOPS is always a treat.  I have enjoyed many of their detailed musicals in the past.   Our House certainly did not disappoint, and my companion commented that the TOPS show of this London love story was as good as the West End version he saw some years back. 

So where to actually start?  With a backdrop of a Sliding Doors plot, there was a choice of destiny, with break ups, heartbreaks, relevant issues, an unforgettable Las Vegas number and a car wheeled onstage.  If the story sagged a little at times, the vibrant choreography and strong singing more than compensated.

With a flexible cast playing a colourful array of sassy receptionists, earnest solicitors, opportunist property developers, and absent dads, we followed Joe all the way through his quest to find love and justice, consistently carrying a moral dilemma.  A surprisingly relevant issue was woven in thoughtfully through all the iconic songs that Madness had performed through the years.   If one didn’t realise how many songs this iconic group actually produced, one soon learnt.  It was a pleasurable lesson.

The absent father in question, played by Luke Storey, was a contradictory strong presence throughout, and his skilled voice made him highly watchable.  Often singing from the upper gallery level, he was akin to a guardian angel.  The two schoolgirls, Billie and Angie, played by Alex Alderson and Bethany Dickinson joined him in the good stage presence category.  Plus, Joe’s two school pals, Emmo and Lewis, skilfully played by Daniel Evans and Louis Bissix, were no less supportive and humorous. These four supporting players commanded the stage with confidence. 

Sarah, Joe’s true love and schoolgirl sweetheart, played by Nadja Shone, was outstanding and had a strong voice.  Joe, played by Tyler Fagan, matched up to a lead’s standards and added the right amount of pathos and humour.  They both kept up a strong presence in the many musical numbers, where they could easily have been submerged in the busy routines. 

I liked the two-storey stage where band members sat on the top level in silhouette, and if they were a little too loud sometimes, the bonhomie of the cast’s voices and attitudes still made it all enjoyable.  Musical director, Daniel Looseley and his talented musicians clearly had fun in producing such skilled sounds, doing great justice to Madness’ pieces.

Against the grim relevance of property developer’s greed and saving childhood homes, there was the contrast of colourful numbers, the Las Vegas number set to Wings of a Dove particularly stood out. This was no mean feat in a crowd of many good numbers. The slick choreography was by Becky Silverstein and held high in standard by Dance Captain Laura Dulwich. 

TJ Lloyd, the director, handled this complex and many-layered musical with sensitivity and skill.   Lighting by Andy James, and sound by Dickson Cossar was apt and moody.

Producers Mandy Church and Simon Fagan should rightfully be proud of this colourful show, with unfortunately all too short a run … don’t let this one get away.

Heather Moulson, September 2022

Photography by Chris Lemon and TMD Photography

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