Writer/Director: Stephen Fletcher
Reviewer: John Roberts
Having first been performed six years ago and revived in a bigger, stronger production in 2016 at Liverpool’s Royal Court, Mam! I’m ‘Ere is back once again and by all accounts, it’s the best outing of the production to date.
Just off the coast of North Wales, island holiday camp Boogie Wonderland is on its last legs and owner Dave (Andrew Schofield) along with best friends Alf (Stephen Fletcher) and Teddy (Jake Abraham) are trying to keep things going to the end of the season before the site is sold. Sally, Dave’s Daughter (Hayley Sheen) is about to get married to camp singer Si (Michael Fletcher) but one thing is missing – her mother, so she invents a competition as a ploy to invite the three winners; the loud-mouth scouser Julie (Lindzi Germain), The bumbling mystic Mandy (Lynn Francis) and the motherly Brenda (Eithne Browne) to an all expenses holiday on the island so she can discover who her mum really is. If it all sounds a little familiar then you would be right.
Mam! I’m ‘Ere is a loving, albeit, slightly, off-centre pastiche of Mamma Mia! But that shouldn’t be taken as a slur – this is an energetic, touching and damn right hilarious production, writer/director and performer Stephen Fletcher has moulded a show that is not only fit for all the family but stands strong against other jukebox musicals in the “rom-com” genre. One of the main reasons is the adapting of the text and the performance to fit the cast, here in this third outing his cast is sublime! It’s no surprise considering how often this group of actors work together that the onstage chemistry is electric – slick and quick with a little shake of naughty ad-lib and you know what you are going to get.
Played on Mark Walters brilliant campsite set, this really is a performers playground and good use of levels and caravans ensue, excellent lighting from Ian Scott and a rich sounding four-piece band under the supervision of Alex Smith pump out a collection of disco hits to fit the proceedings.
As the young lovers, Michael Fletcher (Si) and Hayley Sheen (Sally) are a perfect match, sincere and genuine in their performances, they help ground the madness perfectly and are the perfect foils for the madness from the older members of the company. Germain once again proves her worth as the larger than life Julie and Francis is superb as Mandy the on-off mystic, Stephen Fletcher is a delight as the lovable Alf while Jake Abraham is the king of soul and mops as camp cleaner Teddy – but the performances that stand out head and shoulders above are Drew Schofield as camp owner Dave and Eithne Browne as Brenda – here we have two stage stalwarts that make performing look so effortless, Schofield pulls all the clowning stops to ensure his drunken Dave is still a lovable rogue, while Brown brings a sincere motherly feeling to proceedings.
Mam! I’m ‘Ere is a massive success for the region and especially for Stephen Fletcher, who from a desire to create work for friends, has created one of the strongest shows to have been performed on the Royal Court Stage in years, one hopes that somewhere in the life of the show a regional tour can be found – this production deserves to be seen by more than just the people of Merseyside!
Runs until 11 August 2018 | Image: Zantos Media