A Heart-Wrenching Welsh Story of Friendship, Change and Acceptance that Rocked the World!
Produced by The Sherman Theatre and Hijinx Company, this piece was performed by a collective cast of
neurodivergent and neurotypical actor-musicians. A loud and proud piece of unapologetically inclusive
theatre, with an educational and heartwarming tale at the centre. What better way to celebrate the
Sherman Theater’s 50th birthday than by telling a story which took place mere metres away from their
doors, and also happened to change the world?
A remarkable true story that all started with Alan Duncan, a young man born with Down’s syndrome who
inspired a revolution. Set in early 1970s Cardiff, university student Jim Mansell was stunned by the
conditions of local Ely Hospital. After volunteering with the residents at the hospital, he quickly learnt
these people deserved better and were deprived of their freedom.
The relationship between Jim and resident Alan is a vulnerable display of hope. Despite Alan’s dreams of
living in a house and being in a band seeming impossible at the time, Jim fought against all odds to help
him. Together, they conduct an experiment to fight for change, end institutionalised care and establish
With heavy themes of abuse and neglect, Housemates reminds us how much we have evolved, looking
back 50 years ago. The powerful use of outdated language and slurs harnessed the severity of the story
and only solidified the reality hidden behind the humour.
The foyer was dressed with 1970s props and furniture, setting the scene upon arrival, whilst the band
encouraged the audience to sing along to classic 70s hits in the theatre. As the audience filed in, the
theatre filled with laughter as the actors interacted with the audience, creating a sense of community.
Setting a comfortable and upbeat tone which lasted throughout, despite some tear jerking moments,
Housemates provided a safe blanket of comedy over the shocking reality beneath. The overall tone and
accompanying aspects of the show strongly communicated the themes, whilst the multi-level staging
physically and literally separated Alan and his friends from their dreams and aspirations until the finale.
The small ensemble cast had undeniable chemistry and each individual brought a realistic and compelling performance. Natasha Cottriall (Sally) and Lindsay Foster (Heather) acted as crutches through the piece; two exceptional female leads who brought comedy and consistency. Peter Mooney and Gareth John, in the roles of Jim and Alan, were both particularly charming throughout, bringing to life two exceptional and historical individuals.
The beauty of music and its meaning was incorporated seamlessly. Never was the music distracting but
only complimentary to the action. Transitioning the audience into each new phase of the journey, Marc
Bolan’s ‘Children of the Revolution’ ballad now has a newly discovered meaning. Each song
accompanied the performance with ease and was hand-picked to cleverly utilise subliminal undertones
with each lyric. The soundtrack was impactful to say the least.
Thanked by the audience with a standing ovation, a cheering crowd and a few runny noses, this
enlightening piece of theatre had an impact unlike any other, with an impactful narrative rounded off with
an Elton John-esque musical number at the finale. Having the pleasure to witness this show in Cardiff,
where it all once took place, was a truly special experience and one which has the potential to resonate
with the audience deeply. Housemates revealed how far we have come as a society and that change is possible and integral when you believe in something. A compelling and moving true story that overcomes
prejudice and educates its audience.
To check out the Sherman Theatre’s upcoming shows, visit: www.shermantheatre.co.uk