Review: Mam! I'm 'Ere! at Liverpool Royal Court ****1/2
It’s 10 years ago that audiences gathered (in big coats) in Liverpool’s Central Hall to watch a new ‘Christmas disco musical’ created by a band of Royal Court actors who had found themselves at a spare end over the festive season.
Mam! I’m ‘Ere!, writer, director and (on that occasion) actor Stephen Fletcher’s cheeky version of a rather better-known hit show, proved a hit – so much so that it was invited in from the cold (and boy, that venue was cold) to become one of the Royal Court’s most popular summertime crowd-pleasers.
A decade – and pandemic - on, the warm-hearted tale of bride-to-be Sally (Hayley Sheen) and her quest to find the ‘mam’ who left her on little dad Dave’s doorstep all those years ago is back on stage at the Court, with several original or returning cast members and some new faces.
In the first camp are the sweet-voiced Sheen – who started as a Disco Diva back in 2015, Andrew Schofield’s erstwhile dancefloor lothario Dave, Lindzi Germain and Lynn Francis as two prospective ‘Mams’, Alan Stocks as ‘yellow coat’ Teddy, and Fletcher’s brother Michael who brings his big vocals to the role of worried groom Charlie.
Meanwhile Liam Tobin and Kacey Ainsworth join the Mam family after previously forging a marvellous musical partnership as the murderous duo Sweeney Todd and Mrs Lovett up the road at the Everyman.
Above: Andrew Schofield as Dave with the Disco Divas. Top: 'Mams' Julie (Lindzi Germain), Mandy (Lynn Francis) and Brenda (Kacey Ainsworth). Photos by Jason Roberts Photography.
While there may be a dearth of dubious baked goods in Mam! I’m ‘Ere!, what there is plenty of is pulsing 70s dancefloor classics and irresistible silliness as Sally endeavours to discover her real mum while keeping Schofield’s bemused Dave at arm’s length on the family’s failing disco-themed caravan site.
Howard Gray leads a crack four-piece band perched high on designer Mark Walters’ Welsh hillside of cascading caravans as the cast, including a quartet of sparkly Divas, belt out classics like Ladies Night, The Love I Lost, Young Hearts Run Free and Boogie Wonderland complete with Mia Molloy’s energetic shape-throwing choreography.
It presses all the right Royal Court buttons, including a crowd-pleasing return for Stocks’ shamelessly scene-stealing inebriated Irish priest.
But amid all this raucous and ribald visual and verbal comedy, there’s also a moment of moving, visceral emotion thanks to Ainsworth as her character Brenda makes a connection with firstly Sally, and then with Schofield’s Dave.