My Son’s A Queer (But What Can You Do?) at Ambassadors Theatre
My Son’s A Queer (But What Can You Do?) is a show that started life at the Turbine Theatre before a heading to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and is now on a second west End run, after a run at the Garrick last year. It is written and performed by Rob Madge and it tells of their childhood, from performing Disney parades in their front room to a child performer on the west end. It is show that not only holds Rob’s queer identity close to it’s heart but celebrates it along with the mantra the we should celebrate, not suffocate, individuality.
What really elevates My Son’s A Queer, is Rob’s ability to tell a story. They captures the audiences attention instantly and takes them on a journey through his childhood with him. We laugh with them when we see them bossing their dad around about delivery of lines, we feel their mum’s pain when she has to arrange a meeting to stop her son getting bullied, we silently cheer when we hear about their success in getting the role of Michael Banks and I defy anyone not to be moved when we are shown young Rob being given a Christmas present made for them by their grandparents.
In describing the show it does run the risk of sounding self indulgent but this could not be further from the truth. Rob is self depreciating and many of Rob’s stories are stories that ring true to many of us which is what makes the show simultaneously hilarious and moving. Rob addresses bigger questions whilst using their own childhood as the lens for this. For example, when looking in the Disney store they wonders why there has to be a choice of just 2 (the girls section or the boys section) or what a parent should do if their son is queer (let it happen). This latter question becomes the heart of the show and you leave thankful for parent’s such as Jon and Jen Madge who allowed Rob to express themselves but also conscious that not everyone is so lucky.
In telling the story Rob uses a clever blend of throwbacks using a video wall and his families video tapes and their own narration throughout the show. The video tapes have been a hit of their own on social media and we are treated to numerous performances by a young Rob who often brings his co-star his father along for the ride. The blend between the use of his families videos and his own narration is seamless and the balance between the 2 was spot on. The set design by Ryan Dawson Laight also assists with this. We meet Rob as if he is in their own front room, with a comfy chair, a chest of draws and other items that depict a home environment. Throughout the show Rob moves around the stage, pulling costumes or puppets out of foot stool or a cabinet turning into a glittery centre piece and the audience are treated to Rob’s childhood imagination becoming a reality on stage.
The music by Pippa Cleary adds to the campness of the production, with witty lyrics (clarifying the difference between a cassette and Cosette was possibly my favourite) and a catchy chorus which you leave humming after the finale.
The opening number ‘Anything Is Possible’ sets the scene is wonderfully from the get go. It is this theme of ‘anything is possible if you just believe,’ that provides a backdrop to the whole show and luckily for the audience Rob Madge (and their team) believed and we got this wonderful show as a result.
My Son’s A Queer (But What Can You Do?) is on at The Ambassador’s Theatre until 18th March. You can find out more and buy tickets here.