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Theatre / Our House

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Our House is a 2003 British Jukebox Musical featuring the music of Madness. The book was written by Tim Firth (who wrote Calendar Girls and Roger and the Rottentrolls, and co-wrote Kinky Boots).

The show is set in Turn of the Millennium Camden Town, northwest London. It is focused around Casey Street, a residential street. The central characters are:

  • Joseph "Joe" Casey, a young man from a family of builders.
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  • Sarah, Joe's girlfriend.
  • Joe's dad, who made a bad decision early in his life.
  • Kath Casey, Joe's mother.
  • Emmo and Lewis, Joe's best mates and surrogate brothers. Emmo is more boisterous, Lewis is more sensitive.
  • Billie and Angie, Sarah's best mates. Heavily sarcastic social climbers.
  • Daniel "Reecey" Reece, a petty criminal who went to school with Joe. Described in the foreword to the script as "a smiling, charming, superficially likeable force of darkness".
  • (Mr.) Colin Pressman, a middle-aged, thoroughly amoral property developer who wants to bulldoze Casey Street to make way for gentrification.


This work provides examples of:

  • Affably Evil: Reecey, most of the time.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: It's hard not to feel sorry for Bad Joe after the burning of Casey Street.
  • An Aesop: The right path may not be the easiest, but is much better in the long run.
  • Anti-Villain: Bad Joe, to some degree. He does bad things partly out of a desperate need to prove that he can achieve good things for his family.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: While he isn't the blood sibling of any other character, the way Lewis is treated suggests he is seen as this.
  • Bad Boss: Pressman. This is especially clear in the Black World.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: In the Black World, Pressman is untouched by the prosecution of Reecey and Bad Joe; he gets everything he wants.
  • Berserk Button: Pressman clamps down ruthlessly at even the slightest sign of dissent.
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  • Beware the Silly Ones: Reecey has most of the best jokes on the villains' side, and is also the most directly murderous character in the show.
  • Big Bad: Pressman, obviously.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Bad Joe. He wants to succeed in the same kind of business in which predatory sociopath Pressman has dominated, and he's willing to go to great lengths to do it, but he still has morals - he's just too cowardly and in any case too greedy to obey them. Pressman and Reecey are more effective predators than he is, and this is what ultimately brings him down.
  • Blatant Lies: In the Black World, Pressman asks Bad Joe whether his name has anything to do with the name of Casey Street. It is. Joe doesn't admit it.
  • Butt-Monkey: Lewis, throughout, with varying degrees of love.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Inverted. Joe's Dad spends the entire show calling him out (inaudibly).
  • Crowd Song: "The Sun and Rain Reprise (Stallholders)".
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: In the Black World, Kath dies in a house fire.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: What exactly Joe's dad did that got him killed is never mentioned.
  • Downer Ending: The ending of the Black World, with Kath's death, Bad Joe going to jail for life, and the utter destruction of the Casey family.
  • Dirty Coward: The initial and most important difference between Bad Joe and Good Joe.
  • Disappeared Dad: Joe's dad, who is dead. They are reunited for a few lines at the very end.
  • Dying Dream: Possibly. With the time rewind in the final scene, it is unclear whether any of the show except the last few lines was ever actually real for anyone except Joe's dad.
  • The Dragon: Reecey to Pressman.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Good Joe goes to prison twice, and even had to live out of his car, but ultimately marries Sarah, is surrounded by people who love and care about him, including his Mother alive and well, with Pressman & Reecey convicted for their crimes against Joe's Family.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Bad Joe. When his actions lead to his mother's nightmare-inducing death in a fire, it breaks him in a way he can't come back from.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Reecey, In-Universe.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Averted. The show is a jukebox musical with few arrangement changes from the original tracks, so all the male characters sing in the comfortable middle range.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Pressman. He is initially described as 'seemingly avuncular' in the script, but the instant he is pushed, the facade slips.
  • Face–Heel Turn: While his descent into evil runs through the show, Bad Joe's definitive slip into villainy happens at the point where he denies his name.
  • Ghost Song: By definition, any time Joe's dad is singing.
  • Good Parents: Joe's Dad, who is dead but can't rest until he makes sure his son is on the right path.
  • Greek Chorus: Emmo and Lewis, and Billie and Angie.
  • Happily Married: Sarah and Joe. She marries Bad Joe at the beginning of Act II, but he loses her by the end. She doesn't marry Good Joe until the end of Act II.
  • Hate Sink: Pressman. He's a completely amoral property developer; he is superficially genial but cracks very few jokes, in contrast to the Laughably Evil Reecey.
  • Here We Go Again!: Narrowly averted at the end. The show rewinds back to a few minutes before the Point of Divergence and proceeds the exact same way as it did the first time, but two lines before the original Point of Divergence, it branches off in a new direction entirely.
  • Idiot Ball: Primarily an issue for Joe, who makes some clangingly stupid decisions throughout, in both timelines. Good Joe holds it worse, mostly in Act I, but comes out better.
  • Idiot Hero: Joe, to an extent - it gets him into half the situations he ends up in, in both worlds.
  • It's All About Me: In the Black World, Sarah leaves Bad Joe at the point when he is plotting how to avoid being convicted for his own mother's murder at her funeral.
  • Irony: Bad Joe wanted to make his family proud. What remains of his family at the end is quite the opposite.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Bad Joe. Even near his lowest, just before the end of Act II, he wants to provide for his family and make them proud. After his actions lead to the horrific death of his mother, he cries like a baby - but he recovers quickly and begins to think of his own fate, making it clear to Sarah how far he has fallen.
  • Jerk Jock: Reecey.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Kind of. It isn't long after the Point of Divergence before Bad Joe is staging break-ins at the premises of potential clients to whom he is selling alarms. However, he doesn't accelerate downhill at the same speed after that, sliding more gradually.
  • Karma Houdini: In the Black World, Pressman, who continues unscathed. Not so much in the White World, where Reecey names him as a co-conspirator in the burning of the Casey Street house.
  • Killed Off for Real: Kath, in the Black World.
  • Kill It with Fire: In the Black World, Reecey burns down the Casey Street house, killing Kath. It is not clear whether he knew.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Good Joe has some of this going on.
  • Love Interests: Joe and Sarah for each other.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Everything Bad Joe does, he justifies as wanting to provide a good future for his family.
  • Love Triangle: Between Good Joe, Sarah, and Sarah's new beau, Callum. However, it isn't a driving force in the plot.
  • Manly Tears: There is a decent amount of crying by men. It is never presented as shameful.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Reecey. To a lesser extent, Bad Joe.
  • Minor Character, Major Song: "Embarrassment" is one of these for a bunch of minor characters who never appear again.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Bad Joe and Reecey simultaneously, with the burning of Casey Street in the Black World.
  • Multiple Endings: Given the Split Timelines Plot.
    • Good Joe gets to live Happily Ever After with Sarah.
    • Bad Joe accidentally gets Kath killed, loses everyone who loved him, and goes to jail for the rest of his life, in a brutal Downer Ending.
    • And the true ending: in the last 30 seconds of the show, time rewinds to Joe's sixteenth birthday, where his actions are ever so subtly different in a way which avoids the original Point of Divergence altogether.
  • Nice Guy: Good Joe. Bad Joe is a lot slimier, but he is still driven by fundamentally sympathetic motives.
  • The Nicknamer: Reecey constantly refers to both Joes as 'Jojo'.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: Reecey. It's less to do with him having a harmless nature, and more to do with the fact that there was no reason for him to affect either Good or Bad Joe - until it turns out in the middle of Act II that he's an arsonist paid by Pressman.
  • Official Couple: Joe and Sarah.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Reecey. His full name is Daniel Reece, but it isn't mentioned until it becomes important - when it turns out that he and Pressman's paid arsonist, 'Danny,' are the same person.
  • On the Rebound: In the White World, there are definite overtones of this in Sarah's relationship with Callum.
  • Psycho for Hire: Reecey.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Joe for himself. Good Joe has issues with rashness and lack of caution. Bad Joe tends to be cooler and more reserved.
  • Reprise Medley: Happens repeatedly throughout the show.
  • Say My Name: "Reecey!" and not too long after that, "Mum!"
  • Self-Made Orphan: Bad Joe, by the end of Act II.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: If you believe that the rewind in the Act II finale wipes out both the White and Black Worlds completely, then the entire show is this.
  • Shipper on Deck: Joe's dad, for Joe and Sarah. It's unclear how much of this is because Dad likes Sarah specifically, and how much of it is because he doesn't want Joe to make the same mistakes he did.
  • Show Within a Show: "Wings of a Dove", in Act II, is implied to be taking place at least partly in-universe, as part of Bad Joe and Sarah's "paradise wedding".
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Somewhere in the middle. A pretty strong theme of true love runs throughout the script, along with one good turn deserving and receiving another. However, the show is pretty cynical about government and business.
  • The Sociopath: Reecey.
  • Split Timelines Plot: Joe accidentally breaks into an apartment, setting off an alarm and summoning the police. The timeline splits into two worlds: White and Black. In the White World, he stays and gives himself up, becoming Good Joe. In the Black World, he runs to avoid capture, becoming Bad Joe.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Joe and his father; not necessarily physically, but they make the exact same mistakes.
  • Tear Jerker: Kath's death in the Black World. It utterly destroys Joe and everyone he loves.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: In the Black World, Bad Joe asks Reecey to non-violently break into the Casey house. Reecey sets it on fire. Kath dies.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Bad Joe, throughout.
  • Tragic Villain: Bad Joe.
  • Triumphant Reprise: "Primrose Hill/Our House (Reprise)," which ends up as a to-the-note exact reprise of the opening "Our House" because thanks to the time rewind, it's the same song, taking place at the same time.
  • True Companions: Joe, Emmo and Lewis. To a lesser extent, Sarah, Billie and Angie.
  • Villain Protagonist: Bad Joe, for the Black World.
  • Villain Song: Played With.
    • Bad Joe, the Villain Protagonist of the Black World, has several songs, but none of them are a Villain Song per se.
    • Reecey, The Dragon, has "Baggy Trousers", which doesn't set out his villainous motives but gives a general impression of who he is.
    • On the other hand, Pressman, the Big Bad, has very few sung lines and no song of his own.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Joe with Emmo and Lewis. Billie and Angie also have a less intense version of this vibe going on with Joe, but there is clearly more genuine dislike there.
  • We Can Rule Together: Pressman offers this to Bad Joe. Bad Joe accepts and is destroyed.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: To some extent, Bad Joe, ultimately. It gets his mother killed.
  • Wham Episode: The denouement of Act II, in both the White and Black Worlds.
  • Wham Shot: An incident which qualifies because it is often done with a video overlay - the burning of the house on Casey Street.
  • When She Smiles: "NW 5", which Sarah sings in the Black World, discusses this trope and Bad Joe.

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