Review: Our House

8 Nov 2018 @ 3.17 pm
| Entertainment

This has to be one of the most ambitious productions ever staged by a young York theatre company.

Our House by York Light Youth
  • Joseph Rowntree Theatre
  • Till Sat Nov 10
  • £13-£17
  • More details

Packed with huge song-and-dance numbers, theatrical innovation, clever effects and more colourful costumes than York Pride, Our House asks a lot from its young cast and crew.

And they deliver.

All the songs are by legendary ska band Madness, which makes for a fabulous starting point.

From the moment the company belt out title number Our House, cascading from the stage and running along the aisles holding party bunting above the heads of the audience, the epic energy levels rarely let up.

Theatrical dexterity

Max Mulrenan as Emmo, Sam Curry as Lewis and Edward Atkin as Joe
The story revolves around Joe Casey, a north London schoolboy who is about to turn 16. He is played by Edward Atkin, who we last reviewed in August in a York Musical Theatre production when he was about to turn 13.

Where do the years go?

On his birthday Joe breaks into a new development of flats to show his date Sarah the view over London.

The police arrive and he has to decide whether to scarper or give himself up. Here the narrative splits into two, following the fortunes of Good Joe (in white) and Bad Joe (in black).

To be honest, the storyline by Tim Firth is the weakest part of the show, contrived and preachy in parts – particularly with the device of the ghost of Joe’s murdered dad appearing at regular intervals to lament his son’s poor choices.

That said, York Light Youth grab the opportunities presented by the split narrative and run with them – and we take our pork pie hat off to director Darren Roberts for having the dexterity to make it work.

Remarkably assured

Lucy Scruton as Angie, Faye Stainton as Sarah and Maggie Wakeling as Billie
So much rests on the young shoulders of Edward Atkin who is hardly ever off stage and must relentlessly swap personas from good to bad Joe.

It is a remarkably assured performance, and a terrific showcase for both his stage presence and technical skills.

We left Jo Ro wondering how he had managed to switch so swiftly during a couple of numbers. There is a jaw-dropping piece of theatrical sleight-of-hand to close the first act that Dynamo would be proud of.

Girlfriend Sarah is played with a steely sweetness by Faye Stainton. She is the moral heart of the show and sings beautifully.

Their sidekicks are consummate scene-stealers. Lucy Scruton and Maggie Wakeling as Angie and Billie provide a wonderfully snarky counterpoint to sweet Sarah.

And Joe’s daft friends, Sam Curry as Lewis and Max Mulrenan as Emmo, showed some great comic chops. Max was particularly good as a loveable goof – with a neat line in acrobatics too.

Musical spectaculars

Nathan Christy as Reecey and Edward Atkin as Joe
The stand-out moments of a terrific night were the big ensemble numbers.

Our House, Baggy Trousers, Night Boat to Cairo and Wings Of A Dove were musical spectaculars.

They were a chance to show the strength in depth of York Light Youth, with excellent vocal performances and equally impressive choreography.

The songs are already classics, but here they have an all-new youthful exuberance.

YLY 'My Girl'

Time to start the Thursday Madness! If you haven't yet seen this, here's YLY's Madness tribute. You can see the boys on stage in 'Our House' at Joseph Rowntree Theatre (some are easier to spot than others!!) – on until 10th Nov.
For a chance of 2 tickets to see 'Grease' at York Theatre Royal next Feb, come along to the Dress up night TONIGHT in your 80's outfit – still some tickets available!

Posted by York Light Youth – subsidiary of York Light on Thursday, November 8, 2018

Thanks to the cast’s 100% commitment the show is always surprising the audience with creative ideas and interplay.

And a big hand to the backstage team. The set design, the lighting, the agile stage management, the remarkable number and quality of the costumes, and the band under musical director John Atkin, are all a crucial part of this show’s success.

Our House is on till Saturday. Head along – it’d be Madness to miss it.