The Pleasance main stage area was set up with cabaret seating and there was a wonderful buzz in the air (despite shenanigans with the Piccadilly line) as I settled in to finally see Dumbledore Is So Gay, having missed it when it ran at the Vault Festival in 2020. Featuring the original cast, and written Robert Holtom, this is a moving, fresh and funny play about the challenges of growing up gay in a society riddled with homophobia.
Our hero Jack, beautifully played by Alex Britt, knows he is gay at 12. He also hears all the negative things the people he cares about say about being homosexual, negativity that he can’t help internalising. Alex Brenner and Charlotte Dowding are phenomenal as all the other characters, from Jack’s best friends Oli and Gemma to Jack’s parents, via Dowding’s empowered and brilliant french teacher Mme DuBois. We watch Jack grow up, come out and watch the world unravel, with tragic consequences. Fortunately our Harry Potter nerd Jack has a Time Turner, so maybe if he goes back in time, he can fix things.
This is a beautiful and sincere coming-of-age story, as we watch Jack try to navigate a society that looks down on him because of his sexuality. But can one young man really change the world, when the problem is so much bigger than him? Dumbledore Is So Gay shows how fighting to be true to yourself is about so much more than your own personal happiness.
Director Tom Wright uses minimalistic staging to great effect, bringing out engaging performances from this intrepid trio of performers. There is an uninhibited naturalism to this production, that succeeds in making the time-travelling magic of the piece feel real.
Despite the underlying themes of homophobia and intolerance, this is ultimately an uplifting and optimistic play. If only we all had the option to go back and try to fix our mistakes, maybe we could make the world around us a better place. I suppose our only choice is to focus on being our authentic and true selves moving forward.
Dumbledore Is So Gay runs at The Pleasance in London until Sunday 26th September. To find out more or book tickets go here: https://www.pleasance.co.uk/event/dumbledore-so-gay#overview