🎭 My Son's a Queer, But What Can You Do?
📍 Garrick Theatre, 2 Charing Cross Road, London, WC2H 0HH
🗓 Friday 21st October 2022
OVERWHELMINGLY BRILLIANT & FABULOUSLY CAMP
"Are you filming?" The words of a young Rob Madge who wanted to be the centre of attention and was born to be on the stage.
Rob is non-binary, and like many of us, was the weird kid at school. Because they didn't conform to the norm and were obsessed with Disney, teachers worried about them and classmates shunned them. They were even told that they wouldn't make friends in theatre and was almost forced into being what something they weren't.
Luckily, their parents were fully supportive of them and Rob was allowed to shine and be themself to the fullest around them. After the small hiccup where their dad bought them a Beast costume when they really wanted to be Belle, Rob's confidence and fabulousness grew and grew.
This production is completely biographical and uses old video footage from Rob's childhood. Their parents were great documenters and all this footage still exists on video cassettes. No smartphones in the nineties!
The main premise of the show is talking about when they put on a Disney parade in their parents living room, with homemade costumes and technical support from their dad! This builds up to a fabulous finale where Rob recreates this parade for the audience.
This show can come across as self-indulgent, but who cares? This show spoke a truth and resonated so much with me. Both heartwarming and heartbreaking, it stirred so many emotions in me and triggered many memories that I had forgotten.
Happy memories such as when I used to put on shows in the living room as a kid, but also not so happy memories such as being told I couldn't do ballet when I was at primary school because I was a boy and "boys don't do ballet" or when my parents were told at a parents evening that they should be worried because I was friends with girls and not boys.
This sort of queer representation is long overdue on the West End stage. I know there has always been some great gay characters in musical theatre, but this was something different. Something special. I have never felt so connected to the material and I was roaring with laughter one minute and fighting back the tears the next.
This story spoke a truth that I'm sure resonated with every audience member who was once the kid at school that was always a bit different.
There are musical numbers sprinkled throughout the production which help lift the show even more and highlight aspects of the story. Each song, masterfully written by Pippa Cleary, has been carefully and meaningfully put together. There's never a song for no reason. Each one is gloriously delivered and lines such as "Why does it have to be a choice of two?" when talking about gender identities are filled with raw emotion.
I was at the opening performance of this show and the audience were up on their feet at the end, giving a well deserved standing ovation to the hour of musical magic that we had just witnessed.
The direction by Luke Sheppard is sublime and Ryan Dawson Light's set design takes you into the heart of Rob's family home.
No show has ever had such an overwhelming effect on me as Rob Madge's story did. I'm still thinking about it a week later and I urge everyone to see this before it closes its limited run at the Garrick Theatre on Saturday 6th November.
Head to https://thegarricktheatre.co.uk/tickets/my-sons-a-queer-but-what-can-you-do/ to book tickets before it's too late.
All views are my own and I pride myself on being honest and free from influence.