Monday, June 5

Everybody’s Talking About Jaime – Edinburgh Festival Theatre

When you learn to except yourself for who you truly are and want to be, that is when the world will follow suit and accept you too, this is the message that this show communicates.

Everyone’s Talking about Jamie is based around the true life and journey of drag star Jamie Campbell: one of the youngest drag queens of his time, taking up the art at just 16. Whilst drag is an important plot device do not get this show confused for a drag show; Jamie’s alter ego Mimi Me (or in real life Fifi La True) only actually surfaces once in the show and in its complete form this is via projection.  The plot is actually about a young sixteen-year-old queer boy (Jamie played by Layton Williams) who dreams of being a drag queen yet fears the backlash he may get from his classmates, teacher (Lara Denning) and school bully. When his mum (Amy Ellen Richardson) buys him some much desired red heels his dream starts to become a reality as best friend Pritti (Sharan Phull) encourages him to wear the heels and dress in drag for the school prom. This leads Jamie to finding his drag mother Hugo/ Loco Chanelle (played tonight by understudy Rhys Taylor) who helps him to discover his inner drag-sona and in doing so find his true confident and colourful self which balances both personalities equally.

The set alone in this show is brilliant, all scene changes are done seamlessly using the ensemble cast and a series of desks as well as a whole kitchen that folds out of a wall and more. You can tell a lot of thought has gone into the set. It’s repeated by lead character Jamie that everything is seen as black and white all the time by everyone around him, this is well reflected in the set as the main backdrop is a dull black, white and grey mix. This however changes using lighting and fold away set in the areas in which Jamie feels most alive and free such as his home (sporting yellows and oranges), the stage and Hugo’s store. The band can be seen on top of the main stage hidden behind a mesh which is always a nice touch rather than banishing them to the band pit.

Photo: Johan Persson

Layton Williams is absolutely fabulous as our leading man, walking in heels bigger than most can manage with great ease and singing some really vocally difficult numbers with powerful emotion and conviction. The only downside and this is not on Layton himself, was that in group numbers he was often drowned out especially in the big opening numbers when he had lighter lines. Theatre can very regularly make the mistake of playing to stereo types when it comes to queer characters however both the scripting and Layton avoided such a trap. We will all know a Jamie like Layton’s and he plays the role with respect and very well indeed.

Amy Allen Richardson plays the role of Margaret perfectly and has the audience emotionally at her will from the very start. Margaret is Jamie’s dotting mother who despite her own struggles will do anything for her son.  Richardson’s rendition of “If I met myself again”, accompanied by a contemporary dance pull on the heartstrings and “He’s my boy” is a showstopper.

There’s too many fantastic actors and actresses in this production but a big shout out needs to go to Taylor for his fantastic performance as Hugo and Sasha Latoya who is hilarious in the role of Ray and a personal favourite character of mine.

This show is definitely worth a watch if you like a feel good, inspirational, tear jerking musical and whilst it’s not perfect enough for 5 stars (mainly down to an inaudibility within group numbers, Miss Hedge raps in the first song and I understood not a single word) it definitely falls under a high 4 stars.

Playing until 2nd April,

Reviewer: Beth Eltringham

Reviewed: 29th March 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★