Play: Our House
Venue: Theatre Royal
Rating: * * * *
Towards the end of “Our House”, the successful son, Jack, wistfully trails off, “I never thought I would miss this house, but now…”. “Our House” starts off with elderly widow, May, who is packing up and moving out of the house she has lived in for forty-five years. As her possessions are removed one by one, she reminiscences on the phase of life passed there.
Written baldly on paper, this might seem horribly unoriginal and cliché, but director John Godber crafts the play into a delightful nugget of life. Told in non-chronological order, it would have been easy to make a mess as the story weaves in and out between past and present. Yet, it flows smoothly through clever stage directions and a brilliantly designed set.
Overall, the cast was good as well. The weakest link, surprisingly, was Jacqueline Naylor, who played May. She got her character across, but had a tendency to overact. The rest of the cast did brilliantly, however, especially the few performers who played dual roles. Hats off to Fiona Wass, especially, who played both nosy neighbour, Sylvia, and dutiful daughter-in-law, Sharon, to perfection. It wasn’t until after the show, browsing through the programme, that it dawned on me that they were both played by the same person.
However, the gem of “Our House” lies in its dialogue. Written also by Godber, the humour is subtle, witty and clever, without resorting to slapstick.
Throughout the entire play, the theatre was kept laughing. In the midst of the humour though, there are real human emotions and one is struck by the impact of individual lives in one house. Watch out particularly for the interactions and chemistry between May and her husband, Ted.
With a light, charming play and one or two, young, fit actors in the lush setting of the Theatre Royal, “Our House” makes for a lovely night to end the term.