A reviews round-up for My Son’s A Queer, (But What Can You Do?) starring Rob Madge at the Garrick Theatre.
Written by and performed by Rob Madge (Millennials, Bed Knobs and Brookmsticks, Mary Poppins, Oliver!, Les Misérables) the show celebrates the joy and chaos of raising a queer child. Rob first performed the show at the Turbine Theatre in London, selling out the run, and has just finished sold-out run Edinburgh Festival. Tickets for My Son’s A Queer, (But What Can You Do?) Garrick Theatre season are on sale now.
The show started life in 2020 during lockdown, when Rob Madge started posting VHS videos of the shows they put on as a child in the family living room, mostly Madge in a wig and dress performing as Disney heroines, with their father playing straight man and stooge. These videos now appear as the central plank of this show, revealing Madge’s personal and professional journey.
The show is directed by Luke Sheppard (& Juliet, In The Heights) with composition by Pippa Cleary, orchestration by Simon Nathan, mixing by Chris Fry, design by Ryan Dawson Light, projections by George Reeve, video engineering by Neil McDowell Smith and associate sounds by Anna Short.
My Son’s A Queer, (But What Can You Do?) runs from 21 October to 06 November 2022 at the Garrick Theatre.
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My Son’s A Queer, (But What Can You Do?) reviews
"The bittersweet tale of a boy desperate to be Belle"
"Rob Madge’s breakthrough solo show is heavy on the emotion, and creatively designed, but strangely underwritten in places"
"Although this is a distinctively queer story, relating Madge’s struggle with the gender binary they felt to be enforced on them, many people who feel different have found similar sanctuary in the arts – and everyone will be able to relate to Madge’s heartfelt tribute to a stalwart family. Even this cynical critic was undone by the touching revelation of Rob’s grandparents’ labour of love: a homemade puppet theatre."
"The live songs, co-written with Pippa Cleary, both riff on actual Disney earworms and give Madge some further emotional expression"
"A joyful love letter to self-expression"
"A charming work that strikes a deep chord"
"It’s a joyful love letter to self-expression and to Coventry-born Madge’s parents, who strove for six years to conceive a child through IVF, and then enabled their precocious, stage-struck only son to evolve into the charismatic, non-binary performer of today."
"Madge - mustachioed, shaven-headed, in a babydoll dress over vest and shorts – invites us to laugh at and with the attention-seeking tot who appears on it, hogging the camera and announcing each new performance with the demand “drumroll please!” The arch demeanour of the grown-up Madge means there’s a little bit of lemon mixed in to temper the sheer, delicious egotism of the younger one."
"It’s hard not to be moved by the family’s reciprocated affection and care, though it does result in a sameness of tone throughout a show that is, at just over an hour, on the slender side"
"Charming but slender confessional"
" It’s principally in a couple of simple gestures — no more than sudden extended pauses — where we get a sense of the tension and pain that must have been lurking behind the boy’s ever-present smile. It would have been worth hearing more about how the family coped with all the pressures but this is a show that prefers to don make-up and turn up the lights."
"Luke Sheppard’s DayGlo production makes room for some cheerfully camp songs, Madge’s monologue presented in the form of a seven-step guide to the joys of self-expression. It may not dig very deep, but the audience whooped, screamed and shouted. In the end, it’s as much a therapy session as a one-person show."
"Rob Madge celebrates a happy gay childhood in this quirky, joyous monologue"
"You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more joyous, life-affirming show in the West End right now than this one"
"Director Luke Sheppard skilfully handles these changes of pace, as the older Madge reflects on their journey to authentic self-expression that began with a desire to dress like Maleficent. It’s often deeply moving and will resonate with many a queer kid in the audience, but Sheppard doesn’t let these moments dominate the stage for too long. The challenges are acknowledged, but this is fundamentally an optimistic show about following your own path. And as Madge sings Pippa Cleary’s infectiously catchy songs with gentle self-irony, they steer the show clear of easy sentimentality."
"Makes triumphant West End debut
"... the audience reaction to this triumphant return was overwhelming – this heart-warming tale received no fewer than three standing ovations, playing to a full house. It packs a huge emotional punch over its scarcely-60-minute running time; alternating between really tugging the heartstrings, with the audience visibly moved on numerous occasions, while also having us regularly howling with laughter."
"If the whole premise sounds somewhat self-indulgent, it is – but Rob’s very aware of this; it’s pretty much the first joke they make on-stage, in a performance that knowingly strikes a fine balance between being celebratory and self-depracating."
"We’ve seen a lot of queer theatre over the years, yet it’s still quite rare to see such a positive narrative play out, especially in a setting like this"