Tag Archives: Hannah Elsy Productions

Dumbledore is so Gay

Dumbledore is so Gay



Dumbledore is so Gay

Dumbledore is so Gay

Online – Filmed at the Pleasance Theatre

Reviewed – 6th October 2021



“the play struggles to engage, too often feeling more like a public service announcement than a piece of theatre”


Remember when JK Rowling shook the world in 2007 by announcing that Dumbledore was gay? It was arguably an entirely tokenistic move, with the author failing to meaningfully mention the character’s sexuality in the seven book series she’d just completed. Nonetheless, it still displayed a small shuffle forward in representation, introducing a LGBTQ+ character into a major franchise and sparking the kinds of discussions that Dumbledore is So Gay delves into.

The play follows Jack (Alex Britt), a Harry Potter fanatic growing up gay in a culture that uses the word as an insult. He has to suffer through societally entrenched homophobia from his friends, classmates, and parents (all played by the multiroling Max Percy and Charlotte Dowding), as many young people have had to do. However, the difference is that Jack is armed with a time turner, the time-travelling necklace that Hermione uses in The Prisoner of Azkaban. In this play, Jack uses it to try to alter the timeline so that his fantasies are manifested, but has to reckon with some harsh realities.

The script, written by Robert Holtom, doesn’t feel like it ever really embraces the concept, however – the differences between the timelines feel quite unadventurous and tame. A lot of the dialogue is also very on the nose, as if Holtom doesn’t trust that the audience for this show is most likely going to be comprised of people who already subscribe to the idea that homophobia is bad. As a result, the play struggles to engage, too often feeling more like a public service announcement than a piece of theatre.

The performances, too, are a mixed bag. Britt inhabits the role of Jack excellently, but has the same intonation on a lot of his lines that makes the dialogue feel wearisome. Percy over-caricaturises most of his characters, which works initially but ultimately exacerbates the script issues. And Dowding thankfully strikes a great balance of comedy and pathos across her characters that’s fantastically engaging. Overall, it feels like a tonal misstep from director Tom Wright.

There are positives to the show: the lighting design (Rory Beaton) and sound design (Peter Wilson) are both stellar, and Darius Shu’s filming for the stream is highly professional and beautifully executed. However, these elements are building on flawed foundations – Dumbledore is So Gay feels like it entered the conversation about ten years too late for the messages it wants to share.



Reviewed by Ethan Doyle

Photography by Alex Brenner


Dumbledore is so Gay

Online until 18th October from dumbledoreissogay.ticketco.events


Other shows reviewed this year by Ethan:
Shook | ★★★★★ | Online | February 2021
In Pieces | ★★½ | Online | April 2021
Monday Night at the Apollo | ★★★½ | Apollo Theatre | May 2021
Catching Comets | ★★★★★ | Pleasance Theatre | September 2021


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Rejoicing at her Wondrous Vulva


Rejoicing at her Wondrous Vulva

Rejoicing at her Wondrous Vulva the Young Woman Applauded Herself


Reviewed – 13th May 2019



“will no doubt provide every viewer with a new perspective on the world”


Rejoicing At Her Wondrous Vulva The Young Woman Applauded Herself is a frank exploration of female sexuality, self-love and patriarchal expectations directed by Donnacadh O’Briain. Brain/Ego (Bella Heesom) and Clitoris/Appetite (Sara Alexander) battle it out for top spot in the female protagonist’s sex life while the former slowly beats the second into societal submission. The clitoris does not understand why she is seen as dirty and disgusting while the brain also often struggles to comprehend the flawed cultural logic she applies to her own sexual desire.

The play explores snippets of the young woman’s sexual growth from discovering masturbation to entering an unfulfilling relationship with a man who sees her as nothing more than a sex object. The protagonist learns that her sexuality and pleasure are embarrassing at a young age when schoolboys laugh at the idea of performing oral sex on a girl. Familiar phrases about female sexuality periodically flash up on a screen at the back of the stage – Virginity is precious. Vaginas are dirty. Sex is for men.

The play is interspersed with scenes of graceful movement (Liz Ranken) in which Alexander nudges and bites at Heesom as if a lioness. This theme is expanded in a meditation led by Alexander during the show where she uses the raw animalism and beauty of the lioness as an analogy for female sexuality. The screen at the back of the stage too shows the face of a lioness to emphasise this.

After the performance, Heesom and Alexander invite the audience to attend an open discussion to reflect on the issues raised in the play. The experiences enacted in the piece are revealed to be near universal amongst the female audience from being told vaginas smell like fish to feeling the need to satisfy a partner on a special occasion. Heesom and Alexander handle the group conversation with great care and sensitivity, and it is an appreciated and moving addition to the show.

The set (Elizabeth Harper) is well considered and helps to emphasise how natural female sexuality is. Heesom and Alexander move around a beautiful (lady) garden with flowers and plants hanging from the ceiling. The screen shows animated flowers growing and dying to reflect the revelations made on stage. The ground is covered in dark pebbles and a rectangular pool of water runs along the back of the stage. A wooden swing hangs in the back-left corner and reminds the audience that these harmful ideas about female sexuality are fed to us since childhood.

Heesom and Alexander are both stars and their chemistry is incredible. The two women move effortlessly between witty back and forth as Brain and Clitoris to sensual moments wrestling on the ground. Heesom’s final speech as the societally battered Clitoris is particularly powerful as she strips off her clothes and attacks the patriarchal constructs that have made female sexuality shameful. Rejoicing At Her Wondrous Vulva The Young Woman Applauded Herself will no doubt provide every viewer with a new perspective on the world.


Reviewed by Flora Doble

Photography by David Monteith-Hodge



Rejoicing at her Wondrous Vulva the Young Woman Applauded Herself

Ovalhouse until 26th May


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Medea Electronica | ★★★ | January 2018
Random Selfies | ★★★ | March 2018
This Restless State | ★★★ | March 2018
Standard:Elite | ★★★★★ | May 2018
Austerity & Me | ★★★★ | June 2018
The Croydon Avengers | ★★★ | June 2018
Undersong | ★★★★★ | June 2018
A Pocketful of Bread | ★★★ | September 2018


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