Everybody’s talking about Layton and those LEGS!!! (tres jealous Mr Williams!)
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is based on 2011 documentary Jamie: Drag Queen at 16, which documented the drag passions of teen Jamie Campbell, with songs from The Feeling frontman Dan Gillespie-Sells that will get stuck in your head for the following hours and days to the point where you will be listening to the soundtrack on Spotify! The show is set in Sheffield and really does take you on a rollercoaster of emotions from start to finish while giving you cultural learnings to take home and ponder. Since it opened in 2017 the show has gone from strength to strength not just in the UK & Ireland but internationally!
The story revolves around Jamie (Layton Williams) , a flamboyant camp and fabulous 16year old who is trying to find his place in the world and figure out who or what he is and how to obtain his dreams of becoming a drag queen, while living with his single parent mum Margaret (played phenomenally by Amy Ellen Richardson) with the moral support of their great family friend Ray (Sasha Latoya). It is very evident from the start that the bond between Jamie and his mum is a strong one, in the absence of his deadbeat dad, Margaret still tries to pretend that Jamie's dad is proud of him, remembers his birthdays etc when in reality it is really quite the opposite. (A story that will unfortunately resonate with so many members of the LGBTQIA+ community.)
In school Jamie is continually bullied by the big fish in the small pond Dean (Played by BGT winner George Sampson) but thankfully Jamie is not alone and has a faithful best friend and “fag hag” in the shape of Pritti (Sharan Phull). Together they navigate the perils of being the odd ones outside the “in crowd,” (unfortunately again a story so many of us can relate to.) Pritti by name and pretty by nature, she helps Jamie find his inner confidence to wear the highest red heels I’ve seen in a longtime, all while having to deal with bullies herself due to her intelligence, beliefs and choice of clothing. I have to say that Sharan’s vocals and control really blew the roof of the theatre and made her really stand out even in a big mix of household names.
Eastenders star Shane Ritchie plays the role of Hugo and legendary drag queen Loco Chanelle (a far cry from Alfie Moon), who takes Jamie under his / her wing to help him find his drag persona. Ritchie plays the camp aged Hugo to perfection and looks sensation as Loco who is ably assisted by his three drag queen sisters from the local drag bar Sandra Bollock (Garry Lee), Laika Virgin (John Paul McCue) and Tray Sophistcay (Rhys Taylor) all who were what you would expect from any good drag queen - rude, lude and loud!
A few key mentions that need to be said without spoiling the plot:
● Layton commands the stage with his presence, persona and performance and I will say it again those LEGS!
● Try not to have a tear in your eyes when Amy belts out “My Boy”
● Don’t get too engrossed in watching George Sampson for his BGT winning dance talents!
● And finally I dare you not to want to shout “Yeeeeeeooooo” at the final Prom scene when Priti does her thing! (you’ll know exactly what I mean once you watch it!)
Everybody’s Talking about Jamie runs until Saturday 12th March at the Grand Opera House, Belfast.