Rob Madge brings their musical memoir back for a second run in the West End. It remains a joyous, multimedia, fairytale show about acceptance, identity, and Madge’s family, who gave their precocious son and grandson room to perform.
In just 65 minutes, Madge, who was a show-off right from the moment of their birth, shows old home videos of the “putting on a show” variety, carving out how key moments like their dad’s tech and his grandma’s costume skills helped them hone their craft and find themselves.
Not all gay, trans or non-binary children have such supportive families, and society at large, as we sadly see every day on social media, often gets pleasure from mocking, misgendering, and just plain cruelty.
There are moments in My Son’s A Queer that will make you laugh. Others will bring a lump in the throat, perhaps tears, through the rainbow handprints, glitter, lights, and flamboyance.
My favourite song in the show (all written by Pippa Cleary) remains “We Will Be Loved Anyway,” a piece of affirmation for boys, girls, and others. Elsewhere, some technical wizardry amuses with a high-kicking chorus line of rats and a face-plant from young Madge.
Madge now watches as their young self demands to be filmed and is fairly insufferable in their obsession with Cinderella (“the good Cinderella” making the topical joke alongside a couple about “the West End’s newest star, Cheryl“.)
What makes this show special is not just how it is told, curated, and developed, but how each moment builds and echos the old grainy VHS. As young Rob shows off their first schoolbag, grown Rob reveals it; the same is true for puppets from a mobile theatre.
This is a small but beautiful show built from pride (in family) and Pride (in being queer). It is as camp as you can get, with its multi-frock finale, and yet as English as tuppence. A radio interview from the time of Madge’s debut in Mary Poppins is clenchingly cut-glass.
You shouldn’t miss this show, which will leave you knowing “Anything is Possible” and fading out the casual cruelty shown to those who don’t suit labels or fit into gender binary boxes.
Image credit: Mark Senior
This review is dedicated to Chrystal Sinclair