Nottingham New Theatre
theSpace @ Surgeons Hall
Madhouse is set in the sprawling and untidy kitchen of a student flat. It’s a tale of drunkenness, drug taking, petty jealousy and secret crushes with a boisterous cast, playing out the misfortunes of the group against familiar pop tunes and even more familiar events.
The play is populated with this disarrayed motley group of chalk and cheese flatmates. Most of the stereotypes are accounted for: the bookish medical student, the easy-going stoner, the overly-introspective English student, the arts degree student who longs to be an actor, then throw in a random social media influencer girlfriend and it’s a recipe for all sorts of hijinks.
Only the hijinks here feel decidedly forced, as does the runtime. There’s simply not enough material here to run the 40 allocated minutes, and the several musically accompanied moments feel distinctly like the padding they are. Admittedly, some work better than others, but the extended party night drinking sequence, and the scene of repeatedly pointing disappointedly at audience members were largely unnecessary in a play where a few extra pertinent lines of dialogue or character development would have helped.
It’s not a complete loss, as the trifecta of storylines do at least each wind themselves into something of a conclusion, albeit with some glaring logical story gaps in each one. But the company does throw itself into the whole escapade with no shortage of enthusiasm, and that should be applauded for something attempted, even if it falls short of rising to greatness.
Reviewer: Graeme Strachan