Take a defunct band’s greatest hits, devise a plot, stitch the whole lot into a narrative and sell it as a juke-box musical.
With a bit of creativity it can deliver a remarkable piece of theatre. Done badly, it makes a mockery of fondly remembered musical numbers. As in this case.
With Our House, the songs are those of the ever-popular Nutty Boys, Madness, which is good. But the storyline is spectacularly convoluted, which is bad.
Joe Casey, played by Alexis Gerred, pictured right, becomes involved in a petty crime when he breaks into an apartment with his girlfriend, Sarah (Daniella Bowen). When the police turn up he is faced with a decision: run, or wait and face the consequences. He does both and, in a split-second moment, the tale goes in two directions. We now have one actor playing two characters.
However, that pivotal moment happens so quickly. And if you miss the fact that Joe’s life has divided and spun off in two parallel directions then the ensuing mish-mash of ping-pong events isn’t going to make much sense.
Even some of the critics only found out they were watching a Sliding Doors story after an intermission chit-chat.
Yes, there is a great deal of youthful exuberance. But with horrendous first-half sound problems and little in the way of pacing, it all became rather relentless.
The black-clad spectre of Joe’s dead father is uncannily reminiscent of the narrator in Blood Brothers, and just serves to remind how it should be done.
The story has everything from lawyers to criminals, and from a gondola to musical condoms and a pitiful dance with spinning umbrellas. And though the young cast of – undoubtedly talented – actor-musicians try their hardest, it’s not enough to save this production.
Fans of the gentle lunacy that made Madness such a great band are going to hate the whole thing. Madness’ Our House offered a home where we would have “a very good time, such a fine time. A happy time”. This story closes with a funeral and the house burning to the ground.
That sums it up, really.
Run ends Saturday