The Lowry, Salford, then touring
Guest reviewer: Joanne Hodge
Who should I stumble across as I entered The Lowry, but none other than the uber-glam Jamie Campbell, the boy in the heels on whose story this show is based. He’s an absolute gem, a true Northern Star and, having met His Fabulousness in the flesh, the cast had a lot to live up to.
Jamie tells the story of 16-year-old Jamie New, a Sheffield teenager whose dream is to be a Drag Queen, not quite what his snide, condescending careers teacher Miss Hedge (Lara Denning) has in mind for him. We follow his journey through the trials and tribulations of adolescent life until… well, I won’t spoil it for you!
From the opening scene, Layton Williams’ Jamie is every bit as captivating and flamboyant as his real-life counterpart. His wit and sarcasm is delivered with aplomb, and in those tender, heartbreaking moments that every teenager feels a thousand times more than at any other time of life, I wanted to run up on stage and hug him as hard as I could.
Jamie is guided through the creation of his drag persona by Shane Ritchie’s Hugo and his alter-ego Loco Chanelle. Ritchie transitions easily from the glam siren that is Loco, to the gruff, down-to-earth Hugo, a character switch anyone who’s spent a night on two on Canal Street after dark will recognise easily.
Amy Ellen Richardson as Jamie’s beloved mother Margaret and Shobna Gulati as Ray are a great stage partnership, though I have to say Shobna stole every scene as the funny, feisty character with the cracking one-liners.
The whole cast is fantastic, and notable mentions must go to George Sampson as the moody lad’s lad Dean, whose presence radiated bitterness, angriness and insecurity and Sharan Phull as Pritti Pasha, who as Jamie’s self-titled ‘Fag Hag’ is the friend we all want in our corner.
The Production team, headed by Cameron Johnson as Resident Director should receive amazing levels of praise for bringing this honest, ballsy extravaganza to Manchester.
All-in-all, everybody SHOULD be talking about Jamie, and everyone – no matter colour gender, sexuality or anything else is welcome here – acceptance is the name of the game. If you’ve ever felt different or like you don’t belong, I assume you, you do here.
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