At last – Summer has truly arrived. Not just in the great outdoors of this great country of ours, but it has also reached beyond the footlights and illuminated the windowless dark recesses of the stage with a brightness the colour of laughter!
Mam! I’m ‘ere has arrived at the Royal Court!
And it arrived with a bang, bouncing in with a disco beat animating silver hotpants, flowery frocks and bright colourful costumes. From the moment the curtain rose you were transported back to that magical carefree time when the Bee Gees were the bee’s knees.
Mam! I’m ‘ere was born in 2012 when Liverpool actor Stephen Fletcher found himself with an empty diary having missed out on castings for the city’s Christmas shows. He put pen to paper and spawned an idea that had been disco dancing around his head for ages. Within six weeks he’d gathered a group of actor friends and put on what turned out to be a sell-out run in the little auditorium at Grand Central, a grade 2 listed building in Renshaw Street.
When I saw it back then, I just knew it was destined for bigger and better venues. Having acted many times in the past at the Royal Court, and been subconsciously influenced by its ethos and its audiences, Stephen had, without realising, written a “Royal Court comedy”.
And so it was great to see this uplifting musical again, not just at a “proper” theatre but at Liverpool’s number one comedy theatre. It was also good to see that Stephen had made almost no changes to the cast.
In 2012 he played the love interest role of Si himself. Today he handed that part over to his brother Michael so he could concentrate 100% on directing the show. Today he earned his stripes as a director.
The story is set in a run-down caravan park on an imaginary island off the coast of Wales operated by single parent Dave and his daughter Sally.
Sally, played by Rachael Rae, hatches a plan to have the mother she never knew attend her forthcoming wedding, by inviting three women she knew to have been her father’s former “encounters”. Until she has worked out which, if any, could be her mother, Sally attempts to keep the three unsuspecting ladies, played by Kelly Sutton, Helen Carter and Eithne Browne, away from her father, with hilarious consequences.
Dave is played by Andrew Schofield, whose face has launched a thousand laughs and whose wit, banter and ability to deliver one-liners and punch lines with quintessential scouseness, has launched a thousand more.
It is great to see him back in front of the Royal Court audiences that love him so much.
Holiday camp Yellow-coats Alf and Barry are played by Paul Duckworth and Alan Stocks. Both comedy geniuses in their own right, they liberally sprinkle cameos of scouse humour into the story-line throughout. And when Stocks transforms irreverently into his well-loved inebriated “Father O’Flaherty” character for the wedding scene, the audience erupted.
The phrase “laugh a minute” may be hackneyed but it really does apply to this show. And built around a plausible storyline, it is also musically superb with a four-piece band inconspicuously on stage throughout, musical director Simeon Scheuber taking full advantage of the considerable singing abilities of the talented cast.
Finally, credit must also go to choreographer Lindsay Inglesby who had seven delectable disco dolls gyrating throughout the entire performance. These petite dancers, headed up by actors Hayley and Jamie Hampson, looked so alike in their silver hot-pants and white curly wigs they could have been septuplets.
In what was a nice touch, divas Hayley and Jamie arrived unannounced into the auditorium just before curtain-up and as the band struck up, they had the audience clapping their hands and tapping their feet, cleverly setting the pace for the rest of the show.
Press night audiences are never the easiest but this talented cast had them eating out of their hands and pretty much the entire auditorium was on their feet for a musical ovation at the end.
Mam! I’m ‘ere runs at The Royal Court Liverpool until August 1st. Do go and see it. I guarantee it will make your summer complete.
Without hesitation, it’s a 10/10 from me.
(Click images to enlarge)