There are few theatre performances we have seen where the audience are on their feet in standing ovation within the first few songs but Billy is one such show and you know what it deserves it.
Brilliantly bonkers, breathtakingly beautiful and a complete emotional roller coaster is really the only way to describe the hit show which is this week celebrating its twelfth year.
Set in a northern mining town against the background of the 1984/’85 miners’ strike, Billy Elliot follows the story of a young boy who accidentally stumbles upon a love of dance through a touching relationship with local dance teacher Mrs Wilkinson, among a time of incredible working class hardship.
Billy doesn’t shy away from history and deals with the battles between the miners and the police, middle class perceptions along with the working class hatred of Maggie Thatcher head on. It is impossible for anyone with any mining history or old enough to remember the huge pit heads looming over our towns to fail to be affected by the show and it stands not only as a poignont reminder of recent British history but one which will cause you to reflect on the similarities in today’s political Britain.
It’s not all gut wrenching though. There are moments of lightness too throughout, with music from Elton John what more could you expect? It is flamboyant and bonkers and has plenty of laughs. It takes guts as a young boy to get up on stage dressed up in women’s clothing and a tutu and Bradley Mayfield as Michael did a wonderful job. His natural chemistry with Adam Abbou made for some touching scenes. Not to mention the moments of comedy gold from the fabulous Mr Braithwaite.
Adam Abbou is exceptional as Billy, it isn’t an easy show stamina wise by any means but Adam does an incredible job of moving from the developing dancer to the breathtaking Electricity. Even in the scenes with his ‘older self’ Adam shone.
Grandma’s song will have you both laughing at the eccentricity of the character and crying at a lifetime lost to an abusive marriage.
The relationship between Martin Walsh as Dad and Scott Garnham as Tony is both touching and guttingly heart wrenching. Garnham has been treading the board for years and knows how to pack a punch. I challenge anyone to hear his lines about the closure of the mines and the effect on its workers to not consider this and the current economy, zero hours contracts and the state of some of our old mining villages and not sob into your hankies.
Billy will make you leave the theatre entirely emotionally drained but not in a negative way as above all Billy is an incredible, heartfelt and life affirming piece of theatre.
Go see it!
Billy Elliot runs at the Liverpool Empire until May 27th.
Notes for families:
Recommended age 8 plus
Contains heavy swearing.