Network Theatre, Lower Road.
25 Feb-1 Mar. Running time 1 hr.
Written by Robert Holtom, directed by Tom Wright. Dumbledore is So Gay is their first collaboration, produced by Natalie Chan.
“A witty, poignant and contemporary coming-of-age drama for the naughties. For those who love fantasy and those who don’t, for the LGBTQ+ community and its allies, and for anyone who loves a good laugh and maybe a little cry”.
Jack (a deeply likeable Alex Britt) is a young lad obsessed with Harry Potter, negotiating his emerging sexuality. He’s our narrator through that minefield with a winning enthusiasm against all the odds.
His friends Ollie and Gemma (the endearing pairing of Max Percy and Charlotte Dowding, who also play Jack’s parents) grow with him but the USP of this show is that Jack engages time-travel to attempt to “make things better”.
To take a serious theme – the bullying and suicide of gay teenagers – and present it as a comic fantasy could misfire, but Robert Holtom has created a lovely, sweet, hilarious and heart-warming piece which makes its point while making us smile.
I’m not a Potter fan but know enough to smile at the numerous digs at JK Rowling’s work, and the fact that Dumbledore is the sole gay character in the series, and ends up dead, is surely a concern to young readers who may be looking for a point of identification.
This show made me howl with laughter but also packed a punch as the three alternative stories evolve. In particular, Jack’s own shift into gay maturity and the story of ‘old Norman’ ring true. There are also subtle physical indicators of Ollie’s awakening, plus farcical and cheeky gags which verge on the slapstick.
Tom Wright directs all this with a firm hand and with just three boxes to bring to life settings from a schoolroom to a church, a football changing room to a living room sofa, the imagination of the piece is really quite a feat, particularly when actors are required to switch into a variety of minor roles.
Judgement: Wow, Meow, or Furred Brow?
It’s an unqualified Wow for Dumbledore is So Gay. I loved it, and what a contrast from years back when gay children grew up under the shadow of Section 28. This surely has a life beyond the Network.
LouReviews received a complimentary ticket to see Dumbledore is So Gay.