Review: Unhappy Birthday

Written for Exeunt Magazine

I miss the days when birthday parties included goodie bags, paper hats and pass the parcel (those ironic Shoreditch ones don’t count). Fortunately Amy Lamé is throwing just such  a shindig at Camden People’s Theatre. Inspired by a Morrissey song from Lamé’s favourite album, Unhappy Birthday explores her complicated relationship with the iconic pop star.

As we walk into the CPT studio we’re given party poppers and red hats, rehydrated potato sticks and, on the night that I went, a piece of birthday cake. It’s fair to say that the excitement levels in the room are pretty high, but there’s also a sense of nervousness, a prickly tension in the air; Lamé is as nice as pie but there’s a mischievous twinkle in her eye that’s unnerving.

I take a seat next to a chair that has been saved for Morrissey, which in retrospect may not have been the best idea in a piece that increasingly feels like it’s going to involve audience participation. “Are you having fun?” Lamé asks, rather wildly; this is a party after all and she wants us all to feel included. A giant red parcel sits promisingly on a table in the middle of the room, the music starts and we’re off.

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