We use cookies on this website to improve how it works and how it’s used. For more information on our cookie policy please read our Privacy Policy

Accept & Continue

Delightful pub theatre The Old Joint Stock presents their latest in-house production: The Mad Ones, a touching musical by Kair Kerrigan and Bree Lowdermilk.

Samantha Brown (Dora Gee) sits in her car, on the brink of possibility. Her life has been turned upside down, and she is torn between the influence of three loved ones. She replays recent events in her mind, haunted by a jumble of incompatible aspirations.

Sam’s overpowering mother, Beverly (Thea Jo Wolfe) wants her to fly high at an Ivy League university, and her boyfriend Adam (Ryan Bartholomew) is sweet and steady - perhaps too much so. Most of all, she thinks about her best friend, Kelly (Safia Bartley), who is wild and free - ‘one of the mad ones’.

In the Old Joint Stock’s intimate theatre space, the audience feel very close to the action, which the cast embraces wholeheartedly. Directed by Emily Susanne Lloyd, the show is moving and funny in equal measure, with some nice moments of choreography from Ellie Begley.

The set design, by Tom McVeigh, is simple, but effective. Sam’s car takes centre stage, transforming into different locations as her memory jumps from place to place. Across the back of the stage is a smashed mirror, enhanced by Joanne Marshall’s elegant lighting design.

The four actors were on great form, boasting impressive vocal performances, and creating funny moments, alongside the more poignant ones. Dora Gee, as Samantha Brown, was a strong and engaging lead, who carried the storytelling with ease, bringing the audience on Sam’s journey.

As Kelly, Safia Bartley had a brash, powerful and memorable character. Ryan Bartholomew conjured up Adam’s awkward teenage personality brilliantly, and Thea Jo Wolfe as Beverly provided a fair amount of comedy relief. Impressively, all three actors managed to maintain a feeling of real care and affection for Sam, saving the show from caricature and teen angst.

The live music - led by Musical Director Callum Thompson - matched the slick performances, featuring Thompson on piano, guitar (Gilbert Price) and Violin (Taz Duval). The Music was all nicely balanced with the vocals (Tom Bedworth was sound engineer) and there were a few interesting musical moments in the score, although nothing too avant garde.

With The Mad Ones, the Old Joint Stock fulfils its brief as a place to see interesting fringe theatre in the heart of Birmingham. This bodes well for the venue’s next in-house musical, scheduled in August, and in the meantime, The Mad Ones is well worth a watch.

5 stars

Reviewed by Jessica Clixby, Thursday 11 April at The Old Joint Stock, Birmingham, where it runs until Saturday 20 April.