Rob Madge came to peoples attention during the first lockdown sharing brilliant home videos from their childhood. That combined with Rob's winning personality and natural hilarity made them one of the joys that got us through a tough time. Now Rob has built a whole solo show around their home videos with the brilliantly titled My Son's A Queer, But What Can You Do?
For those who don't get the title. it is a pun on the line "This one's a Queer but what can you do?" from Les Miserables - a show Rob appeared in as a child playing Gavroche. The genius of the title already tells you what a well thought out show you are about to witness. First instincts were right as myself and the entire audience were in for the ride of their lives.
As a child, Rob loved putting on shows in their living room, as so many of us stagey fans did. Rob was clearly destined for the stage as their family quickly realised - costumes were created as Rob wrote, directed and starred in their own shows with their family as the supporting cast. Almost like a stagey version of You've Been Framed, these videos form the backbone of My Son's A Queer... as Rob intersperses them throughout the show while telling stories about their childhood. The stage is cleverly set up to recreate Rob's living room with a deceptively simple setup revealing itself to be full of surprises to make it more fabulous than your average living room (No offence to anyone's living room)
Playing at the fabulous Turbine Theatre in Battersea - a place that plays host to stories that need to be told and provide a much needed moment of joy in peoples lives. This show perfectly encapsulates what that theatre is trying to achieve. Well-written, flawless comic timing and some hilarious one liners make this a joy to watch. Combining brilliant direction from Luke Shepperd with the immeasurable talent that is Rob Madge makes this a flawless combination. The narrative of the show is how to successfully put on a Disney parade in 7 steps and includes a handful of original songs which allows Rob to use their fantastic voice, but ultimately this is a show about storytelling - and what a story to tell!
This show is a celebration of Queerness - it tells the story of Rob coming to terms with their own identity. and is a celebration of all of the joy and chaos that comes with raising a Queer child. This is a story a lot of us in the LGBTQ+ community can relate to. Like so many of us, Rob's childhood wasn't without its traumatic moments - Rob recounts moments of bullying, immediately resonating with many of us in the audience. Luckily for Rob, their parents were completely accepting of them, encouraging them to be who they wanted to be and embracing them for the beautiful and talented person they clearly were. This was what struck a chord with the audience most and made us relive our own stories - unlike Rob, my father was far less accepting about my coming out so to say I was feeling a rainbow of emotions at these comparisons would be an understatement.
The fact Rob managed to create such a special piece of theatre through the dialogue and flawless use of home videos is a testament to the writing and created an utterly powerful show. Props from their childhood make appearances on the stage - seeing Rob as an adult pick up these items that brought them such joy as a child was far more emotional than expected, especially when you hear the backstory behind them (the theatre their grandparents made for them was amazing). Rob has such charisma that they would be mesmerising even if they were wearing a bin bag... which they pretty much were at one point. Always looking fabulous, Rob is a natural storyteller and had the audience in the palm of their hand from start to finish. When Rob finally put on their parade at the shows climax, we were all there marching with them.
Acceptance is one of the themes on show here - accepting yourself and having those that matter accept you for your true self. A truly beautiful message and one many of us struggled with, not only in childhood, but also as an adult. The message was "Anything is possible if you believe" - something we all need to hear, especially after the last year we have all had. Rob's parents (present in the audience last night) did a fantastic job raising such a fabulous child - if more parents were like them, the world would be a far more tolerant and better place.
My Son's A Queer, But What Can You Do is a truly beautiful and powerful show. Heartwarming and joyous, it is not without its emotional moments and a true reminder of the innocence we all had as children and the struggle many of us faced to accept our true selves and have others accept us. The ability to make you cry just moments after heavy laughter is a true testament to the brilliance of Rob Madge. If the beauty of theatre is how much it can make you feel, this show is the perfect tribute to that. The words "must-see" can be thrown around too much, but if anything is a must-see show, it is surely this. See it while you can and experience something truly gorgeous.
My Son's A Queer, But What Can You Do? has just announced a two week extension. It is now playing at The Turbine Theatre until July 17th. All dates for the initial run up until July 3rd have sold out so get your tickets for these new dates quick.