I, AmDram (4 stars)

This article is from 2019

I, AmDram

credit: Daisy King

Surprising and uplifting story about how an amateur dramatics society helped shape one young woman

These days there's a stigma around amateur dramatics, but it hasn't always been this way. In the middle of the last century, trains were scheduled to run especially from Welwyn Garden City back to London late at night, to ferry the urban elite back from Welwyn Thailians am dram shows. The Thailians are a prestigious family-run amateur dramatics society, and I, AmDram is Hannah Maxwell's very touching story about how she fits into her family heritage as a millennial lesbian.

Maxwell herself is more into sultry mood pop music than heritage classics, such as 'The Road To Tipperary', which her family's shows often feature. As she hilariously puts it in the show: "In 2010, two things came out: me, and this song," before she drops into a stirring version of Robyn's 'Dancing On My Own'. But as well as being a satire about how she fits in – and how she doesn't fit in – to her family legacy, I, AmDram is also a romp through the show tunes of yesteryear and Hannah's ingenious move is staging a show with both contemporary and classic music, which has been designed to cleverly appeal to audiences that like show tunes, and young millennial audiences too.

Indeed, her very Thailians are often spotted in the audience singing along. Maxwell's criticisms of the company and their hesitation to modernise are peppered throughout the show, but they're never critical enough to actually upset. In the end, both history and the modern day are reconciled as Maxwell reveals her family let her play a male role in a musical recently, experimenting more with androgyny on stage as she had wished.

This is a heartfelt and deeply moving tribute to the power of theatre to unite generations of one family, despite their differences.

Pleasance Courtyard, until 26 Aug, 2pm, £10 (£8).

I, AmDram

  • 4 stars

Hannah Maxwell Amateur dramatics: the unspoken past of many a Fringe performer. From four generations of leading ladies comes one queer Londoner, sharing a story of return and reconciliation – with her history, hometown and love of musical theatre. Step-ball-changing between suburb and city, I, AmDram minds the gap…