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Housemates | Sherman Theatre

Housemates is a show that offers an incredible insight into the reality of disabled welsh people in the 1970s. Jim Mansell (Peter Mooney) volunteers at Ely Hospital to take a group of people with disabilities to the park for a day out, he assumes they’d gone before, but finds out that’s not the case. In the group is Alan Duncan (Gareth John), a young man with down’s syndrome and he and Jim bond over music. Alan has lived in Ely Hospital all his life and understandably, he hates it. All he wants is to live in a house and be in a band. Jim realises how badly the residents in the hospital get treated and tries to get them out. The show highlights the journey to shutting down institutionalised care and the start of supported living. The cast of Housemates, fronted by Gareth John and Peter Mooney, were absolutely incredible. Featuring a number of disabled actors, which is a big thing to note in itself, as it’s rare to see disabled actors playing disabled characters. Gareth John and Lindsay Foster (Heather) were definitely the standouts for me with perfect comedic timing. The cast was quite small and meant lots of actors playing different characters, which was done seamlessly.

Four actors were also in the band but also playing characters - consisting of Natasha Cottriall (Sally), Caitlin Lavagna (Sian/Ensemble), James Ifan (Birch/Ensemble), and Peter Mooney (Jim Mansell). The band was on stage throughout and if the actor had to switch characters, they would simply put on costume pieces whilst sat behind their instruments and walk down to the main stage when it was time for their character to show up. This was a great way of utilising the cast and their abilities in the show. The band also featured in a preshow segment and upon entering the theatre auditorium, they played different hits from the 70s. It’s more songs from this era that feature throughout, with a lot of love shown to Slade's ‘Cum on Feel the Noize.’ This was a great was to immerse the audience in the era that the show takes place in. Something that is done so brilliantly by Housemates and Sherman Theatre is the access accommodations made for every performance. This press night performance alone was a relaxed performance (meaning you could leave at any point if needed), captioned in English on screens above the stage, audio described, and had a BSL interpreter on stage. It does need to be said that the captions were obviously pre written and happened to be off time at one point and sometimes did not match up to what was being said. Every single performance of this show has two or more of these access accommodations taking place. This is the best example of accessible theatre I have ever seen!

Housemates is simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking. It is absolutely a must see performance. You really do not want to miss it! Housemates is running at The Sherman Theatre until October 14th - for more information and tickets, you can book tickets here.


AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review


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