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Unhappy Birthday

Amy Lamé is having a birthday party, and everyone’s invited.


She welcomes us into the performance with cake, hats and party poppers: “Just set them off whenever you want to – it’s a party!”

A circle of chairs waits for occupants in the dimly lit room. Gleaming ribbons adorn the walls and a cloth-sheathed central table supports a large, wrapped gift. The audience migrates to seats curiously; hats are enthusiastically applied to heads, like weird, red unicorn horns.

The doors close, and the show begins, but one seat remains empty. Morrissey hasn’t arrived, and his labeled chair attracts curious glances.

This is Amy’s fourth one-woman show, put together in between her afternoon radio slot on BBC London and her appearances as founder and host of the Duckie nightclub collective. Far from a traditional play, her brand of brash, involving performance art won’t give you a second to relax and, as the lights dim further, Amy bursts in and sprints across the room, clasping a sandwich and a telephone receiver, and enthusiastically declaring her love for the infamous Smiths front man. This is our introduction to an obsession that, with the help of an involving game of pass-the-parcel, is relayed to us at points throughout the show.

Audience participation is vital. In fact, it threatens to overshadow all other elements of the production, sweeping everything away in a mess of crushed cake, harassed men and sanitary towels. Amy’s success in mortifying individual audience members does provide laughs, and the permission to engage party poppers on a whim allowed for genius comedic timing from certain participants. Yet, what seemed to be a pretty interesting story about Amy and the lengths she’s gone to satiate her Morrissey lust was disjointed and hazy beneath the noise and mess of the central action.

It was mad, it was funny, and for fans of The Smiths it’s the best excuse you’ll find for a sober public sing-along. Yet the potential of the concept wasn’t quite met; it could’ve been madder, funnier, and even more Morrissey.

Worth a watch, but not for wallflowers - one unsuspecting male received an extended, zealous, and lipstick-smeared groping.


3/5

Camden People’s Theatre, London

Book tickets here

Words:Rachel Healy

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