Photo: Mark Senior

How’s this for a fairy-tale story? Rob Madge built a following on social media by posting hilarious home videos, many of which went viral during the pandemic; Rob reached out to the team at London’s Turbine Theatre to see if they would commission a play based on those videos. The result – My Son’s A Queer (But What Can You Do?) – premiered in June 2021 at the Turbine. We went to check it out at the time, describing it as “an uplifting and life-affirming piece of theatre”. Following a successful run at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, it now returns to London – but its new home is the glittering Garrick Theatre on London’s West End.

We went along to the show’s gala night over the weekend and 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.

For those unfamiliar with the premise, it’s largely a trip down memory lane for Rob Madge – we see videos from their childhood through the 1990s and 2000s, showing them staging Disney-inspired parades for their parents and grandparents in their living room. Rob provides commentary for these amusing home videos and drops a handful of original songs (by Pippa Cleary, arrangements by Simon Nathan) into the mix, which wouldn’t sound out of place in a Disney musical. If you’re not a huge Disney fan, fear not – the references are mainstream (Mary Poppins, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid) – this performance requires no specialist knowledge beyond the sorts of films that many of us will have grown up with.

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.

Of course the show is now playing in a much larger space with a more impressive tech set up, and while it retains much of its quirky lo-fi DIY charm, there are some notable upgrades. This production makes use of the Garrick’s curtain and spotlights, while the sound quality and clarity are much improved. It’s still the same show it was before, but the extra bells and whistles help transform a great show into something rather special.

We had a wonderful evening with My Son’s A Queer (But What Can You Do?) – it must be the most heart-warming and uplifting show on London’s West End right now. 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. It’s an authentic, feel-good fairy-tale come true: Rob’s story really is one to celebrate. It’s only on for a couple of weeks – grab a ticket while you can!

GAY TIMES gives My Son’s A Queer (But What Can You Do?) – 5/5

More information can be found here.