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Unhappy Birthday

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
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The audience arrive and are shoved back into retro heaven. A party hat is thrust on your head, you're handed a cake which is so sweet it hurts your teeth and a party bag complete with traditional fillings - bubbles, princess pencils, sweets and a party popper.

We're told to leave our phones on, take photos and tag the host in them - this is her birthday after all. It turns out, the audience have unwittingly RSVP'd to an Unhappy Birthday party hosted by Amy Lamé, an obsessed Morrisey fan whose main aim is to make sure everyone has a great time at her party while telling an autobiographical story of her Morrisey fandom.

The show focuses around a game of pass the parcel, each layer revealing a clue to the next part of the story and Amy's life following Morrisey. Some of these layers will require a brave volunteer from the audience to enact the story, some tell the stories on their own and along the way, nutty titbits of information are offered up during interactions with the party attendees.

Honestly, the whole thing is crazy and will in no way be to everybody's tastes. In fact, some people will hate the whole experience. The possibility of being the one holding the parcel and having to open it, resulting in possible embarrassment and audience participation isn't everyone's idea of fun but I am absolutely positive some people will revel in it.

Moz-eo-ke, sanitary towel decorations and a prayer to Morrissey are just some of the completely bonkers events of the evening as well as a 'guess the weight of the cake' game which resulted in most of us being covered in cake. I was a little upset when she didn't tell me how much the cake actually weighed - I am almost certain I had it right.

Amy is impossible to dislike, so I was desperate for it to work and for her party to be good. She is bold, brash, lively and genuinely wants everyone to enjoy themselves but, unfortunately, the stories feel a little disconnected and jumbled. When arriving, I was excited and looked forward to what was to come. Halfway through I was not having so much of the F-U-N that Amy was hoping for. In fact, it was all a little baffling.

I can completely understand why some people would love this. However, I am not a Morrisey fan and knew few of the references or songs. Perhaps if you are even half as obsessed with Morrisey as Ms Lamé or if you like an unusual evening out this could be the show for you. However, if this doesn't sound like you, this sort of immersive theatre may not be your thing. I can't say it was mine.

- Rhiannon Lawson


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