Tag Archives: Rob Madge

My Son's a Queer

My Son’s A Queer (But What Can You Do)


Edinburgh Festival Fringe

MY SON’S A QUEER (BUT WHAT CAN YOU DO) at Edinburgh Festival Fringe



My Sons A Queer


“there’s lots, and I mean LOTS, of camp queer joy and comedy in the show”


Not to sound like a complete weirdo, but I’ve been following Rob Madge’s career for quite some time. I think my first encounter might’ve been a performance of them playing the Artful Dodger in a telly promo performance of Oliver! And then (or it might’ve been before) as Gavroche in the 25th anniversary concert of Les Mis. I think I shared with many others in the delight of seeing their old VHS tapes pop up on Twitter a couple of years ago of them performing as a kid in their living room. So I’m definitely a fan. I was very much also that kid who played dress-up instead of football and used to make my parents watch me “perform” (I use the term loosely) to a CD soundtrack of Disney’s biggest movie hits. Unfortunately, unlike Rob, my parents weren’t that into it and didn’t really know how to work a camcorder. But it did make this show incredibly relatable.

At the setup, we’re welcomed into Rob’s living room where they’ve been practising for their next show. We’re invited into the tech rehearsal. The stage is warm and cosy: an armchair, some drawers, and a small cabinet with family photos atop. The instrumental to zip-a-dee-doo-dah is playing as we take our seats. The show is a mix of original songs and stories from Rob about their stagey childhood, difficult times at school, and queer awakenings, broken up with a fabulous selection of family videos from the old camcorder. The opening song includes the line ‘even though the stage is small’, which might’ve been the case when this show first premiered, but it’s actually on a pretty big stage now in Edinburgh, and deservedly so! But it’s nice to get a sense that Rob’s ambitions are still even bigger.

Besides just being an incredibly talented performer and singer, Rob is also wonderfully charming. They are so easy to watch, and even easier to root for. The humour is on point, and I personally adored the very niche musical theatre references to the likes of Connie Fisher (the winner of BBC One’s talent competition to find the next Maria) and the seventh of Henry VIII’s wives… the swing in Six the Musical! I think every queer adult in the audience could relate to Rob’s first teenage crush on the Pied Piper of Hamelin. We all had our own Pied Piper, I’m sure.

Though there’s lots, and I mean LOTS, of camp queer joy and comedy in My Son’s A Queer, there’s also certainly moments of poignancy; as Rob’s school teacher knocks their confidence, and basically tells them they need to fit into a box that they don’t feel like they belong in. Rob is very grateful for their family, and acknowledges how lucky they are to have them; their dad lifting them up to help them fly, and reading in for all the other parts (sometimes even getting the lines right); their grandad who built them their very own little theatre, and their grandma who was quite happy being spun around on an office chair to replicate the tea cups at Disneyland. But they also acknowledge that not everyone is so lucky. And a message from their dad about parenting really sums up what it should be all about. I look around towards the end of the show to find it’s not just me wiping away the tears… it’s quite a lot of us. The show and Rob’s performance is incredibly touching. For some of us, perhaps there’s a sense of grief for the queer childhood we weren’t able to have. And for others, maybe some hope for the current and future generations of queer young people, who might just be lucky enough to have a family like Rob’s. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions for sure, performed with flair, talent, and total commitment to the camp theatricality of it all. My Son’s A Queer is a brilliant show. It deserves full houses, and I hope it gets them.


Reviewed 12th August 2022

by Joseph Winer

Photography by Mark Senior




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The Other Palace



The Other Palace

Reviewed – 15th July 2022



“Hannah Benson’s immersive staging bubbles with an energy”


There is, and always has been, debate about the purpose or usefulness of demographic tags. But whether we like them or not, or whether they influence an individual or a group of personalities, the labels are here to stay.

If you are a ‘Millennial’ you witnessed the 9/11 terrorist attacks that shook the world, and were likely to be old enough to comprehend its historical significance. You grew up in the shadow of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; you will have watched the erosion of the global political climate. Reaching adulthood, you would have walked headlong into the height of an economic recession. And the internet has pretty much always been there for you.

Is this significant?

If you are a ‘Millennial’ (according to psychologists) you are likely to be confident, but also confused. You are tolerant, but have an overblown sense of entitlement. You are generous, but at the same time narcissistic. In other words, you merely possess the contradictions that make us human.

Elliot Clay has written a song cycle that tells these Millennials’ stories. But he runs up against the same problems. For the most part they come across as merely human stories; under the Millennial banner. And it is a banner that is waved flamboyantly. Colourful yet superficial. There is little that earmarks a Millennial’s ownership of the subject matter. So we are left with a song cycle. And there is nothing wrong with that. Clay has composed some very fine numbers here. But a trick has been missed, and what is slightly frustrating about the show is the awareness that some sort of thread could have been weaved into the overall concept; or something to bind the characters into some sort of collective. To give them a real, solid context or journey.

Fortunately, that reservation in no way extends to the presentation. Hannah Benson’s immersive staging bubbles with an energy that sweeps aside the misgivings and allows us just to have fun. Andrew Exeter’s design matches, and supersedes, the sheer pizzazz. The Other Palace is transformed into a candied, Wonka-like, emporium. Part disco, part adventure playground; shimmering with colours that overflow with e-numbers. You can taste the sweetness of the set.

The performances are the main attraction. Despite most of their energy being channelled into Tinovimbanashe Sibanda’s slick choreography, the cast of six unleash their glorious voices to the crowd with the dynamism and craftmanship befitting the cream of Musical Theatre. Clay’s songs and lyrics are given the starry treatment and they have the appeal to stand their ground, but “Millennials”, as a show, lacks the cohesive ingredients to ensure a similar longevity. But as a gig, it’s a pretty good night out.



Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Mark Senior



The Other Palace until 7th August


All our reviews this month so far – click to read:

I Can’t Hear You | ★★★★ | Theatre503 | July 2022

The Hive | ★★★ | Hoxton Hall | July 2022

Report to an Academy | | Old Red Lion Theatre | July 2022

Barefoot in the Park | ★★★★ | The Mill at Sonning | July 2022

Flat and Curves | ★★★★★ | Toulouse Lautrec | July 2022

Hungry | ★★★★★ | Soho Theatre | July 2022

Pennyroyal | ★★★★ | Finborough Theatre | July 2022

Shit-Faced Shakespeare: Romeo & Juliet | ★★★★ | Leicester Square Theatre | July 2022


Click here to see our most recent reviews