What do you do if you’ve moved on from self-made Disney parades in the living room of your childhood at Christmas and been a hugely successful child star in the West End?
You write a show about it, and luckily you have all the home movies of your Queer beginnings. That’s just what Rob Madge has done – first at the Turbine Theatre, then Edinburgh and the West End. Now the non-binary performer is back with a vengeance with My Son’s a Queer (but what can you do?)
And the answer to their own question is: laugh, cry, be shocked, be joyful and laugh some more. At the compact Ambassadors Theatre, the audience on my night was mostly Queer and loving it. And what’s not to love?
In this over-the-top Victorian gem of a building, we find Rob in grey vest and shorts, lounging in a plush armchair, with a huge projection screen behind them and camp footlights in front of them.
Through joyous family videos, featuring their parents and grandparents, we chart Rob’s theatrical roots. They sing: “ the stage is set for a show from me… anything is possible if you just believe”. And so we’re off on a roller coaster ride, where they explain the 7 steps to successfully mounting your own Disney parade.
They include: assemble your cast – well that’s largely Rob, with a lot of means-well help from their father on the videos. With a twinkle in their eyes, a knowing look or three and a wry but enchanting smile, Rob delivers a treatise on theatre-making, from finding the right costume- and they have many – using your imagination- and they have plenty of that – to finding your Muse: in this case a boy crush at stage school.
But this show, deftly directed by Luke Sheppard, with songs and lyrics by Pippa Cleary, is not just a comic romp through the joys of Queerness. There’s bullying, there’s intolerance, there’s hurtful remarks from teachers, and there’s a puzzlement about why we should only have binary choices in our lives – as Rob sings – “why two- why just pink and blue?”
In its short span of 70 minutes, we cover a lot of ground- and Rob’s sincerity, acid wit and humanity shine through. A glorious celebration of all things Queer – and hooray for that.
The show runs until 1 April – more information at atgtickets.com
Footnote: a major renovation of the 110-year-old theatre has allowed the installation of a lift from foyer to back stalls level, plus a fully accessible washroom – what a rarity in the West End – and well done ATG for doing it.
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