The Mad Ones

The Mad Ones, written by Kait Kerrigan and Bree Lowdermilk is the latest offering from The Old Joint Stock Theatre in Birmingham and after seeing the show I have decided to rename it ‘The Perfect Ones’.  Not only are the cast outstanding, but the musicianship and the overall design earns every one of the five stars that I have awarded.

Director, Emily Susanne Lloyd, together with Associate Director and Producer, James Edge and Producer Liam Alexandru have created a truly remarkable piece of theatre in the intimate setting of this Brummie based Fringe theatre, a real gem in a city which already boasts some of the best theatres this country has to offer.  We really are spoilt for choice in Birmingham for fantastic theatres, so if you’ve not made your way to experience this venue yet, then make sure it’s added to your list.

The Mad Ones is a captivating musical that delves into the complexities of youth, ambition, and the pursuit of authenticity. It follows Samantha Brown (Dora Gee), a high school senior on the brink of adulthood, as she grapples with the weight of impending decisions that will shape her future.  She has lost her best friend Kelly (Safia Bartley) in a car accident, someone who was daring and willing to take risks, whereas Samantha finds it hard to take chances as she navigates life.  Through poignant flashbacks and heartfelt musical numbers, we gain an insight into Samantha's inner turmoil and the struggles she faces in reconciling the past with the present.

Set Designer, Tom McVeigh was able to offer a minimal feel, with just the inside of a car used throughout the show, also doubling up as a bed and a smashed piece of glass at the back of the set signifying the car accident and how Samantha's life had been cut into pieces.  There didn’t need to be anything else, which is what created the joy of this show, it was all about the incredible talent and their storytelling abilities.

Dora Gee as Samantha Brown was truly breathtaking.  Her journey throughout the show had its highs and lows and her characterisation shines through with a confident and thoughtful performance.  Gee’s vocal ability was second to none and I really cannot wait to see where this journey takes her, but I can certainly hear the West End calling!  Safia Bentley as Kelly also gives a stellar performance bringing the voice of reason, or sometimes recklessness, however her infectious personality was able to show both sides of this complex character.  The harmonies between Gee and Bentley were a treat for the ears.

Ryan Bartholomew as boyfriend of Samantha, Adam, was every inch the awkward teenager embarking on his first throws of passion.  He offered a wonderfully comedic performance, coupled with some fantastic vocals. There were some really tender moments between Adam and Samantha which added another layer to the storytelling and the chemistry between Bartholomew and Gee was believable throughout. Thea Jo Wolfe plays Beverly, the statistician mother of Samantha who was your typical ‘Ivy League’ Mom, wanting only the best for her high achieving daughter.  Wolfe was also able to bring many moments of hilarity to the show and once again, some very impressive vocals.

It's always a pleasure to hear live music and in much smaller venues sometimes that doesn’t happen, however for this show, under the Musical Direction of Callum Thompson, we were blessed with some fantastic music featuring Gilbert Price on guitar and Taz Duval on violin.  This really did enhance the experience and they all did a wonderful job.

The Mad Ones explores themes of love, loss, and the quest for authenticity, inviting audiences to reflect on the choices they make and the paths they choose to follow. With a stirring score and thought-provoking narrative, this compelling musical reminds us that sometimes, embracing the madness within is the key to finding ourselves.

It was an absolute pleasure to see this show and hearing the plans of Theatre Director, James Edge briefly, I have extremely high hopes for some more fantastic productions to come from The Old Joint Stock Theatre, a name that I’m sure will be held in high esteem as a top-quality venue providing wonderful theatrical experiences in no time at all.

This show was reviewed on the 13th April 2024 at The Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham where it runs until the 20th April 2024.  Tickets available here: The Old Joint Stock Pub & Theatre Venue - Find out what's on at The Old Joint Stock Pub and Theatre in Birmingham

Review written by Emma Rowley


Photo credit: Shipwreck Productions

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