Written and performed by Rob Madge, "My Son's A Queer, But What Can You Do?" celebrates the joy and chaos of raising a queer child. Rob first performed the show at the Turbine Theatre in London, and this is not its second West End run. Wow.
The show is an autobiographical piece that celebrates the acceptance that Madge has always had from their family and highlights the importance of both accepting yourself and having people around you who also support you. It centres around the time a young Madge put on a full Disney parade in their living room, with homemade costumes and scripts written to get the family to play along. Through this story, Madge takes us through their childhood, from putting on shows with Dad at home and joining Stagecoach through struggles with fitting in and struggles with finding that iconic yellow Belle dress.
The joyful music of Pippa Clearly beautifully orchestrated by Simon Nathan, the sound design of Tingying Dong, the costumes of Ryan Dawson Laight, the atmospheric lighting of Jay Morjaria, the hilarious and moving video and projection work of George Reeve, the energetic direction of Luke Sheppard would be nothing without the huge talent, humour and heart of Rob Madge in telling their extraordinary story. Rob is a natural storyteller, while they share with us video tapes, filmed by the Dad (often joining in), of their living room performances as a child.
The show explores the wonders and challenges of Rob growing up as a queer child in a world that too often fears and fights what it's not (yet) able to understand, but also beautifully celebrates the power of love and unconditional acceptance that we all wish we could receive first from our families and then society at large. Rob's writing is able to hint at the most difficult aspects of growing up queer while at the same time showing us the joy and immense beauty of it. It is a family tribute, a celebration of love, and even an urgent political statement at times, like when Rob tells the story of a young trans boy and the mother being ostracised by school friends and parents as a consequence of simply being open about the process.
This is a show that reaches, heals, inspires and celebrates so many of us out there.
It runs until 18 March.
Photos: Mark Senior