The Royal Court, Liverpool
Until 11 August 2018
Reviewed by Jennifer Walker
When Mam! I’m ‘ere promised all the entertainment of a well know similar show, with all the disco hits minus Abba, I was hesitant.
Would it be a blatant rip off? Would it border on cringe worthy? Would it be too cheesy? Or could this formula be past it sell by date?
As I settled in my seat, I noticed two afro wearing dancers literally working the crowd, with photos, smiles and typically Scouse banter, I started to remember what The Royal Court in Liverpool was all about. By the time the band started playing and the disco ball started twirling, I looked around the audience and could practically smell the anticipation as the afro girls whipped the audience up into the disco mood. It was then I realized our Afro dancers were backing singers Mia Molloy and Rachel Wood, the voices they had more than warranted a bigger role as both were simply wonderful throughout the show, and also backed up some of the weaker voices in the cast.
The writer, director and producer Stephen Fletcher, manages to tell a twisted version of a familiar tale, with clever jokes and plenty of cheekiness. He brought the story to life of a crumbling holiday destination, a young girl hatching a plan, to invite three potential mothers to her upcoming wedding, one of whom abandoned her at birth, without her beloved father knowing, and the comedy capers that unsurprisingly follow.
The overall production must have been a real labour of love, making sure not to step on the more familiar shows toes, whilst trying to create something of a parallel show.
The cast is a group of familiar faces for a Royal Court production. Hayley Sheen played the lead as Sally, a young lady about to be married, but wondering about the mother who left her on a doorstep as a baby. Sheen has a voice that puts many bigger stars to shame. As she sang ‘Wishing on a Star’, as the show opened, the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end. Her voice is simply angelic and by far the best part of the show, she has such a natural talent, I can’t help but wonder if maybe she is wasted on these productions.
Andrew Scofield plays Sally’s dad, reminiscing about a lost love and a lost youth; he provides many of the laughs with his well-timed comic ability.
His two right hand men, Alf played by Stephen Fletcher and Teddy played by Jake Abraham, played the obvious old jokes but got some of the biggest laughs from the audience when in drag for a flashback scene.
Sally Fiancé Si, is played by Michael Fletcher, who is normally a firm favourite and has a wonderfully strong voice that can keep up with Sheen, but he seemed somewhat distracted. Having seen his energy in other shows I felt his performance lacked vigour and was disappointed he didn’t shine the way he normally does.
Linzi Germain brought the usual comedy to her role of Julie, as a stand up comedian she has that unique talent of a sly smile or a cheeky grin at the audience that leaves them howling with laughter. She is always at the heart of these productions and her ability to carry its weaker moments with a laugh or a look is very valuable.
Her likeability and aptitude somewhat overshadowed Eithne Browne as Brenda and Lynn Francis as Mandy, especially when Browne was let down by her voice early on in the show and Francis fluffed her lines.
The show is light hearted, cheeky and entertaining with some real belly laughs thrown in. The soundtrack is undeniably 70s, with a great twist on an old story, but the music is its highlight. With a magnificent live band, excellent backing singers and a couple of talented voices this show really is worth a look. It is typically a Royal Court experience; feisty, spirited and a good time for all!