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Our House (tour)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Alexis Gerred and Daniella Bowen
© Mike Kwasniak Photography 2013
Life is studded with crossroads. Some choices are easy, others much more problematic. There are so many influences at work – family. education, social environment chief among them. Joe Casey is a lad who makes choices, some of them in spite of himself.

The Tim Firth musical "Our House" was originally prompted by the group Madness, so it's not just one of those back-catalogue confections. There are elements of "Carousel" and "Blood Brothers" in the storyline as we first meet Joe's mother and father in the first flush of their romance on Margate Pier. Romance doesn't long survive reality.

For all Kath's attempts to keep Joe law-abiding, circumstances foil her throughout. Joe wants to impress Sarah, who he truly does love, but he thinks that is something which requires money – and he can't earn it legitimately quickly enough. So he finds himself first in a young offenders' institution and subsequently in a variety of adult prisons.

His alter-ego does and can make money, but at the expense of what one might call his soul. A smart-aleck wheeler-dealer, this Joe finds himself equally made use of by suited men who are even more ruthless than the low-life street villains who do the actual dirty work. The two Joes are on their paths to destruction.

Alexis Gerred gives a superb performance as Joe, with his quick costume changes perfectly complemented by his voice and body language. Hovering over the action but unable to change what seems inevitable is Sean Needham as Joe's father; Rebecca Bainbridge is moving as his mother. Daniella Brown makes Sarah into a real human-being, a girl with a heart as well as a brain.

The main villain is property developer Pressman (Steve Dorsett). The action, with the cast playing a variety of instruments as well as acting and singing in Peter Rowe's production, takes place on one of Mark Walters' multi-level stepped sets. There's a marvellous succession of projections to indicate time, place and even fantasy by Will Dukes with some spectacular 3-D effects.