After finding its feet at the Turbine Theatre and the Edinburgh Fringe, ‘My Son’s a Queer (But what can you do?)’ has just commenced its second West End run. After missing its two week run at the Garrick in October, I jumped at the chance to catch it at its new residency at Ambassadors Theatre whilst in town.
When Rob Madge found old home videos during lockdown, they shared their childhood snippets online. This one-person show is an admittedly self-indulgent replaying of many of these tapes against their own story.
Like many queer kids, Madge loved to dress up and put on shows for their family. The videos are charmingly funny, with a young Robert (very seriously) often bossing about their father whilst creating classic Disney scenes and parades. What is magical is how Madge tenderly brings these to life with their trademark wit and warmth. Often using the same items on stage as seen in the videos, helps convey a certain authenticity throughout. With the shows title alone giving a nod to a line in Les Mis, Madge makes various stagey jokes throughout which the captivated audience lapped up.
The narrative is weaved beautifully with brilliant music by Pippa Cleary. In fact, whilst listening to the cast recording the following day, I may have got a bit teary eyed with emotions on the tube. The music and show itself really is a glitter filled rollercoaster of emotions, in the best possible way.
A show focused so heavily on home videos could have easily come across as very surface level, but this show is anything but. It goes beyond Madge’s own story with how their family accepted them, even showing forgiveness of the hiccups on the way. What is perhaps the most simultaneously heart-breaking/heart-warming moment is where their father’s acceptance shines through, when he responded personally to an online tale of another child.
At the start of the show Madge describes it as the revival of their Disney parade, and the camp finale doesn’t disappoint! This story of self-acceptance has something for everyone. Whether it’s out and proud LGBT+ people wanting to feel seen, those questioning if they need to act a certain way and even those who (like their parents once were) are trying their best to accept others.
Discussing the show with my friend afterwards unlocked childhood memories locked away further than any therapist could dream of getting. It resonated so deeply with me, and by the tears of many around me in the stalls, I was far from the only one. Madge has created something truly special that will stay with me for many years to come. This is queer celebration at its finest and is not one to miss!
'My Son's a Queer? (But what can you do?)' is on at Ambassadors Theatre until 18 March 2023. Full booking info below:
Photo credit: Mark Senior
Note: My ticket was paid for by myself. Irrespective of whether a show is gifted or bought, I always ensure that my reviews are fair and based on my honest opinion alone.