Everybody's Talking About Jamie
- Anahit Behrooz
- 9 March 2020
One boy's journey to drag queendom and beyond
In the first scene of Everybody's Talking About Jamie, the titular character's careers counsellor asks what Jamie wants to be when he leaves school. Half of his classmates have no idea, but Jamie's difficulty is that he does know: yet in the conservative town of Sheffield, his drag queen aspirations are hard to reconcile.
What follows is an at times touching, often funny exploration of identity, individuality and self-acceptance that is at its best joyous and at its worst schmaltzy. It is perhaps a given that a musical about a young, queer boy searching for tolerance will be deeply heartfelt, but Everybody's Talking About Jamie veers a few too many times into pat one-liners and easy happy endings that don't quite connect with the complex but life-affirming subject. The songs similarly don't do the work they could do, although the opening number and eponymous song are riotously catchy.
Where Everybody's Talking About Jamie gets top marks is in its cast, who are infectiously energetic and committed to every step, note and emotional beat. Special mention goes to Layton Williams, who is pitch perfect as the intrepid, vulnerable and deeply fabulous Jamie. It's when the unearned sentimentality is swapped for sharp dynamism that Everybody's Talking About Jamie finds its voice.
Reviewed at Festival Theatre, Edinburgh. Currently touring.