Rob Madge: "There Aren't Enough Joyful Queer Stories On Stage"

Rob Madge performing My Son's a Queer (But What Can You Do?), seen as Belle from Beauty and the Beast.

Rob Madge lastly will get the Belle costume they deserve. Picture by Mark Senior

When Rob Madge heard their present was being transferred to the West Finish, they thought the information was a prank.

“It had all the time been one thing that me and my group would joke about. ‘Oh, if you’re on the West Finish, child, we’ll have a beautiful time!'” laughs Madge, the 26-year-old non-binary performer and creator of the hit one-person-play My Son’s a Queer (However What Can You Do?).

Madge has been appearing nearly their complete life, and as a 12-year-old, created and starred in their very own ‘Disney parade’. They’d a complete script and scenes able to go, however their mother and father (who they “employed” as administrators/stage managers/camerapeople) could not preserve on top of things with Rob’s imaginative and prescient. Chaos ensued.

It is this childhood video, alongside others, that kind the foundations of My Son’s a Queer — a stage sensation that is effortlessly hopped from small London theatre, to Edinburgh Fringe, to rave-reviewed West Finish hit, exhibiting to 400 individuals nightly. It has been “a humorous outdated journey,” Madge smiles.

Rob Madge displaying their childhood self's Disney Parade, seen here as Little Mermaid.

Rob Madge revisits a traumatic ‘Disney Parade’ they placed on as a toddler. Picture by Mark Senior.

“I’ve accomplished it to reclaim my trauma”

“I did so many exhibits as a child in my lounge, however the one I all the time consider is how badly flawed that parade was, as a result of I used to be devastated,” says Madge.

Throughout the ill-fated manufacturing, Rob’s dad struggles to function Ariel’s bubble machine and Mickey’s parade float (a suitcase), whereas their mum misses the cue to name Mary Poppins downstairs, and errors Aladdin for Ursula. “I used to be meant to be two extra characters, however the costume went awry,” harrumphs a downtrodden younger Madge on the finish of the tape.

Madge — a notable social media star — began posting their outdated video clips throughout the pandemic, and concurrently started writing a script, deciding it was time they revisited this watershed chapter of their life.

“I’ve accomplished it to reclaim my trauma,” laughs Madge, happening: “I am so grateful to these those who watch these movies again in lockdown as a result of, with out them, I do not suppose individuals would have had religion that there was an viewers for it.

“With them behind me, I might type of make a case for why it ought to be a present on the town.”

Rob Madge displaying their younger self from an old home video during My Son's a Queer (But What Can You Do?)

Madge was a moderately demanding 12-year-old. Picture by Mark Senior.

“My first inspiration was needing to make individuals chuckle… then spark a dialog after it”

The result’s a hilarious, but tender, coming-of-age story — stuffed with music, confetti, costume and wig modifications — that is explores the genesis of Madge’s love for theatre, and their journey to queer and non-binary expression.

No matter id, it is all extremely relatable — so many people have been documented in dwelling movies as children, and I would warrant fairly a couple of of us have been “completely different” in class, too.

Familial love flows freely by means of My Son’s A Queer; Rob’s long-suffering dad get them a Beasts costume as a substitute of the Belle one they wished; later their Grandma knits them a yellow costume. There are rip-roaringly humorous moments; Rob realised they have been queer once they developed a childhood crush on the Pied Piper — and that is revealed throughout a gushing romantic musical quantity.

Different occasions, the theatre falls quiet with contemplation. Rob’s college report playing cards stated their theatrical character “will not assist him make associates.” At school, Rob saved themselves very a lot to themselves, and was even discouraged from utilizing their creativeness. Rob ought to take part in sports activities as a substitute, stated the college.

“My first inspiration was needing to make individuals chuckle, and now it is resulting in make individuals chuckle after which spark a dialog after it,” says Madge.

Rob Madge holding up their childhood

“I actually really feel just like the viewers is with me and within the room. They’ve turn into my co-stars.” Picture by Mark Senior.

“LGBTQ lives aren’t simply tragic, dramatic and stuffed with debate”

The dimensions of the theatre might have ballooned, however Madge tells me they by no means wished “to go too large for the present” because it’s set in an intimate lounge: “I actually depend on connecting with viewers members as a result of, with out them, I ain’t acquired nothing to play with. They’ve turn into my co-stars.

“On the Ambassador’s Theatre, we’re very fortunate. I actually really feel just like the viewers is with me and within the room. Anyplace else can be too huge, and I’d be talking right into a chasm.”

With present like Bootycandy, Everyone’s Speaking About Jamie and The View Upstairs taking not simply London — however the world — by storm, is queer theatre having fun with a long-awaited second within the mainstream highlight?

Madge is cautious about this, telling me they’ve seen a ‘slight rumbling’ of extra queer work, and hope that extra of those tales will probably be informed “not as a novelty joke, however as one other legitimate story and as necessary as some other long-running performs or musicals on the West Finish.”

Rob Madge stands in front of their childhood self as Maleficent during My Son's a Queer (But What Can You Do?)

“I feel now is an important time to see us as human beings.” Picture by Mark Senior.

But Madge feels there aren’t sufficient joyful queer tales on stage, TV, or movie: “Queer individuals are usually the villain in what’s in any other case a really steady society, which is simply not the case in any respect.

“I feel now is an important time to see us as human beings. Lots of our identities are being diminished as of late. However truly, we exist, breathe, sing, dance, chuckle, and inform jokes. LGBTQ lives aren’t simply tragic, dramatic, and stuffed with debate.

“If you boil it again all the way down to childhood, to the enjoyment and the innocence that all of us as soon as had… it makes individuals look at this time day somewhat bit extra completely different and suppose: ‘why cannot we simply rejoice grown-up children sporting wool wigs?'”

My Son’s a Queer (However What Can You Do?) is at Ambassador’s Theatre until 1 April 2023.

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