If you think of theatre shows that feature stories from the LGBTQ+ Community, it may be ‘Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’ or ‘Kinky Boots’ that spring to mind, shows telling stories of those who struggle to be accepted for being themselves and it is these kind of stories that we often here but here is where Rob Madge’s ‘My Son’s a Queer (But What Can You Do?)’ breaks the mould. This is a show that is all about acceptance, but not the search for it. In this auto-biographical piece, the acceptance was always there for Rob and this show is a celebration of that, a thank you to their parents and the story of how they once put on a full Disney parade in their living room.
After proving a huge hit during its run at the Turbine Theatre, the production headed up to Edinburgh and took up residence in perhaps one of the fringe’s most famous venues, the iconic Purple Cow of Underbelly. It tells the story of Rob Madge’s childhood, with Madge themselves telling the tale of how their parents accepted them for who they were and allowed them to put on all sorts of shows in their living room, complete with costume changes, props, and stunts. Backed up with home videos and music by Pippa Cleary (The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole), this production is heart-warming from start to end.
From stories of getting their dad to fly them around the room as Peter Pan, making sure that their dad did all of Beauty and the Beast correctly, turning the living room into Disney land, complete with spinning tea cups for grandma and dreaming of that iconic yellow Belle dress, this walk through Madge’s childhood celebrates all that is good about not only being a Disney loving child but having parents that allow you to be unapologetically you.
The music is catchy throughout, illustrating Madge’s thoughts about pink and blue clothing for children, their first love at stagecoach and being accepted. There is a real sense of living through it all with Madge, watching them grow up and deciding to be completely themselves without worry of judgement. They dig deep into their childhood, reliving getting special presents, joining stagecoach, reading out school reports and talking about their time starring in productions such as Les Miserables and Mary Poppins. It’s wonderful to see Madge’s happiness at the whole thing, not only reliving their childhood and the happy times but seeing everyone in the audience enjoying it and embracing that joy too.
The costumes are joyful, with an element of homemade fun, putting together outfits from whatever could be found around the house, building up to a grand finale of dress up splendour.
Applause and laughter were both in ample supply throughout, along with plenty of awws at footage of a young Madge having fun and playing out their favourite films at home, always with the support of their parents. A sense of community was created in that space, and the standing ovation filled it with joy and appreciation. Whilst the show celebrates how Madge’s parents accepted them completely, the whole piece paints the idea that who matter what someone is going through trying to find who they are, there is beauty in being yourself and finding that someone who accepts you for doing just that.
My Son's A Queer (But What Can You Do?) runs at The Garrick Theatre in London's West End run October 21 to November 6 with tickets available here https://nimaxtheatres.com/shows/my-sons-a-queer/