One of the characters in musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, mentions that she has to go to detention because she kept correcting the sex education teacher. It made me smile. Most of the things about the show makes me smile. As a single parent, some of them make me cry because they hit very close to home. But as a family, we have so much love for it and the soundtrack is always playing in our flat. And You Don’t Even Know It. The music just creeps into our subconsciousness like no other show we have ever seen. It’s packed full of brilliant one-liners and the Legs Eleven songs are the most often played before the school run. Beggars can’t be.
The reason I smiled particularly at that line at the Wednesday matinee on 10 October 2018, is because of the outrage my then seven-year-old daughter had when she tried to speak out in PSHE. She is adamant one of last year’s Y3 teachers told her it was not possible for a person to change gender or sex and that lesbians was not a sensible answer when it came to who could have sex in relationships. Just men and women was the answer allowed. Because she likes facts and dislikes injustice, she’s been quite put out by it ever since.
She’s now 8 years old and lives in a family as flamboyant as the Priscilla bus. So, it was the perfect midweek matinee to pop up and watch in London last week. She hates Wednesdays at school. I knew she’d spend at least an hour outside having a meltdown. One of her teachers, no coincidence with Wednesdays I’m sure, told me that if she isn’t happy at the school to leave, so we did. We left for the day to watch a show that absolutely wouldn’t think lesbians was not a sensible answer.
The stalls seats were a complete bargain at £25 each for row C, offering both a brilliant view and thrusting us right into the action on stage.
We’ve written about the Jamie Musical before. It’s absolutely brilliant and already we can’t wait to go back and see it a fourth time. It is so well observed that all the characters feel real. It may be set in Sheffield, though the original true story happened in Bishop Auckland, but it is relevant to people all over the UK.
Gender, identity, friendship, bullying, single parenting, rejection and overcoming adversity are universal themes that many can identify with. Even if you have seen the show several times, there’s always something new you notice. This is no homogeneous ensemble of school children. Each character is beautifully observed and shines through the entire duration of the show. I can’t think of another piece of theatre that has encompassed British school children so perfectly. The acting from everyone is first rate, a step above the average musical you can watch in London and on tour.
Luke Bayer took on the role of Jamie for the matinee performance. It must be tough following on from John Mccrea, who is now synonymous with the role. But, he didn’t disappoint and brought his own flamboyance and flourishes.
Melissa Jacques took on the thankless role of Miss Hedge, the character who embodies every jaded and difficult secondary school head of year. I didn’t like her for all the right reasons. Her rendition of Work Of Art was electric.
If you haven’t seen the show yet, it’s a must-see. Lots of shows are must-sees these days but this one’s different. Perhaps it’s because it’s based on a true story. Perhaps it’s because it’s very relevant to current Britain and will strike a chord. Perhaps it’s because it’s beautifully crafted and expertly performed. Perhaps it’s because there’s some facet of Jamie in all of us and we don’t even know it. Or, perhaps it’s because in Britain, we adore supporting the underdog and we already know Jamie Campbell wins.
It is inclusive and embraces what I see as British Values. It’s about being who you are, learning who you are and respecting others for who they are learning to be too.
For more information, or to book, visit: http://www.everybodystalkingaboutjamie.co.uk/
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