Move over Monica, Chandler, Rachel, Ross, Joey and Phoebe: there’s a new set of Housemates in town, and they’re here to change the world!
And that’s exactly what they did, when in 1974 a group of residents at the Ely Hospital went to live with Cardiff University students in a small house in Ruthin Gardens. Alan (Gareth John), a young man born with Down’s Syndrome, meets Jim (Peter Mooney), a rebellious student volunteer. The two become friends, and so begins an odyssey that – after two years, countless letters and submissions and hospital board rejections – culminated in the end of institutionalised ‘care’ and the dawn of supported living.
Written by Tim Green and co-directed by Joe Murphy and Ben Pettitt-Wade, Housemates is a fun and affectionate tale that is raucously brought to life by a hugely talented cast of neurodivergent and neurotypical actor-musicians. The show moves through its story like a song, underscored by an excellent sense of rhythm, movement, and momentum. There are brilliant performances by John and Mooney as the central duo, who lead a superb ensemble cast that includes Natasha Cottriall, Lindsay Foster, Matthew Mullins, Caitlin Lavagna, Richard Newnham, James Ifan and Eveangeleis Tudball. They make a (shockingly) little-known piece of Welsh history feel like an instant classic.
The show begins even before you take your seat, with the cast performing iconic 70s hits that transport you to this era of rockin’ rebellions – and keeps the party going well after the curtain falls. It is simply the most joyous show I can remember seeing in a long time. This vibrant co-production between the Sherman Theatre (the ‘engine room of Welsh theatre’) and Hijinx (one of Europe’s leading inclusive theatre companies) is further proof of the magic of contemporary Welsh theatre: a concert, a comedy, and a clarion call in one.
Housemates is performing at the Sherman Theatre until Saturday 14 October. More information and how to book tickets here. Performances are captioned (in English), audio described and BSL interpreted. Please note that the show contains use of outdated terms for disabled people, ableism, strong language and descriptions of abuse.