“Everyone’s Talking About Jamie” was greeted by wild, enthusiastic audience from its devoted followers at the Alex in Birmingham. They whooped, hollered, cheered and even applauded an unscheduled show-stop. They loved it. Clearly the way to approach this show is with the soundtrack firmly in your head and a determination to enjoy yourself no matter what.
We were back! The theatre was packed with expectant, eager people made up of a demographic who rarely make up the majority of a theatre audience. This is all good. All positive stuff. However, a few things jarred. The young performers who form the larger part of the cast consistently talked through laughs and applause that so much was lost. The sound was slightly awry in parts, but this being opening night will probably settle. The drama was slight and felt lifted from a soap opera. Maybe I’m the wrong audience, maybe I’m too old. But thank goodness for the drag queens. Shane Richie, who we can dub “honorary drag queen” held his own admirably and deployed his punchlines with aplomb. Gary Lee, JP McCue and Rhys Taylor know how to play the crowd and we yearned for more from them. Sadly, we didn’t get it.
But the main plaudits go to Layton Williams adorably vulnerable Jamie New, determined to go to their school prom in a dress, and Amy Ellen Richardson as his mother delivering some stunning vocals with ease. Both supported by a great band under the direction Sam Coates.
Identity politics is, of course, of vital importance and this show is clearly targeted at a generation for whom it has greatest impact and it all seemed very pertinent yet inexplicably dated. Perhaps in the ten years since the documentary on which it was based was screened we’ve all moved on further than we realise.
But the room was hopping. They adored it. They really did. Go see it. If it’s not for me it could well be for you!
Playing until the 18th September before continuing a national tour. https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/everybodys-talking-about-jamie/the-alexandra-theatre-birmingham/
Reviewer: Peter Kinnock
Reviewed: 14th September 2021
North West End UK Rating: ★★★