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Our House - A Musical Love Story is the very successful West End musical based on the music of Madness and written by Tim Firth. Although never having seen this show live, I was pleased to spot on a Swap shop site the DVD of the show and thought that it would be much fun to watch especially as I probably know all the words to all the Madness hits!
Having watched it, I thoroughly enjoyed it and it is put together quite cleverly to include such hits as Our House, House of Fun, Driving in My Car, It Must be Love, as well as a whole host of others. The musical certainly has a feel good factor although it is also surprisingly quite thought provoking and poignant.
Our House tells the story of Joe Casey who is celebrating his sixteenth birthday at the start of the show. As this momentous occasion might or might not warrant, he is attempting to buy some condoms to celebrate - just in case! At the same time his girlfriend Sarah has just the same thought. This starts the musical off with a very lively rendition of House of Fun as they each individually, egged on by their mates, attempt to buy the said items!
It looks as though these might be needed later as the couple find themselves alone down at Camden Canal but as it turns out, Joe decides to show off and break into a newly built block of flats, much against Sarah's protestations! Unfortunately, the police arrive on the scene and Joe has the choice of either giving himself up or making a run for it!
From this moment on there are two parallel stories to follow as we see what happened to Joe when he gave himself up and also what happened to him when he run off. One would hope that the moral of the story would be that by giving himself up Joe went on to live a blameless and fulfilling life but things are never that simple - are they? The Joe who gave himself up is actually sent to prison in order to be made an example of whereas the other Joe does rather nicely for himself albeit not always through the most legitimate of ways! Sarah is still involved either way but it looks like neither Joe is exactly what she is looking for.
Both stories involve the redevelopment of Casey Street where his Mum is attempting to sit tight in the house where Joe grew up. There are some seedy characters around though who are determined to get her out using whatever means they can leading to some pretty dramatic moments. All the way through the audience do not know which course of action Joe actually took when he was sixteen and that makes it quite enticing all the way to the finale.
The DVD actually shows one entire live performance and it is all filmed on stage as the audience would see it at the time. The role of Joe looks pretty demanding as the actor needs to keep changing between the two different versions of his character. As the more virtuous but down on his luck Joe, he always wears a white track suit, and for the seedier character, he wears a dark suit. This must have led to many a quick costume change, although I am sure that at times, he had some doubles that were on stage but not visibly showing their faces! This was a little confusing at places but I soon got used to it and it was made easier to follow because of the very identifiable costume changes.
There is a narrator of sorts in the show and that is Joe's dead father who seems to be looking down and almost acting as his conscience. This is quite apt because the dad ended up in prison due to some petty crime and then on his release ended up dead after a fight. He doesn't want Joe to end up the say way as he did so he is forever urging him, although he cannot be heard, to do the right thing.
On this filmed version I thought that all the acting, singing and dancing was excellent even though I had not heard of any of the performers. I particularly loved the dancing which had great choreography and a great deal of energy. The actual story was an interesting one and actually moved me to tears a couple of times, which I did not expect, particularly as all the Madness somgs seem so zany and upbeat. It also did not feel too contrived the way the Madness numbers were slotted in.
This was great to watch on DVD but I'm sure it's probably ten times better live on stage as I would guess that there would be a great atmosphere. I certainly found my feet tapping and wanting to sing along with all those well known songs.
This DVD is produced by the BBC and it does not seem to have a rating as far as I can see. I was hoping to watch it with my daughters but with the beginning being all about buying condoms it might just raise a few questions that I don't want to answer yet! After all they are only six and five. This is a bit of a shame though as there is much in the musical they would really enjoy especially all the songs and the dancing. They will definitely enjoy watching it in a few years time.
The DVD lasts just about two hours and a very enjoyable two hours it is too!
There are no extras.