Review: Dumbledore Is So Gay, VAULT Festival

Who couldn’t love a LGBT+ rom-com – Robert Holtom and Tom Wright’s Dumbledore Is So Gay is like a gorgeously warm embrace at the VAULT Festival

“It’s not how I imagined it, but it’s great”

There’s something beautifully sweet about Dumbledore Is So Gay, a LGBT+ rom-com set in a world of magical realism that gives you hope that things can sometimes get better. Written by Robert Holtom (The Cluedo Club Killings) and directed by Tom Wright (My Dad’s Gap Year, which I now wish I’d seen), it is an adorably funny piece of theatre with a fair amount of potential.

Age 12, Jack can’t stop getting a boner in French class every time he looks at his best friend Ollie but as his parents change the channel when Graham Norton comes on, he knows he can’t be honest about himself. As the years go by, key relationships develop but not always in the way he is expecting so at a crucial moment, he decides to whip out his time-turner and do it all over again, only better this time.

Holtom threads in a lot of issues concerning contemporary LGBT+ life – depression and teen suicide rates in the community, sexual consent in gay bars, appreciation for our elders and their struggles, not to mention the age-old topics of internalised homophobia, coming out to your parents and fancying the pants of your mate. There’s a lightness of touch though that prevents Dumbledore… from ever seeming too worthy and plenty of laughs worked into the script.

There really is a lot of amusing detail packed into the writing and Holtom uses its construction extremely well. French teacher Madame Dubois deserves her own spin-off, possibly teamed up with Old Norman, and it is the way that these supplementary characters are fleshed out through each iteration of the story that really works. Tom Wright’s direction makes excellent use of Charlotte Dowding and Max Percy to play all the supporting characters in Jack’s life and both really impress, whether with grinding dance moves or playing a scene with two characters by themself.

And Alex Britt anchors the whole thing with a huge amount of sensitivity and charm as the Harry Potter superfan who discovers rimming, and loves it. There’s a real openness to his performance, indeed to that of all three actors, that feels like a warm embrace, a holding of the hand to say it’s all OK, whether it’s going public with your boyfriend at age 13, learning to love yourself or even wanting to watch Fantastic Beasts.

Running time: 1 hour (without interval)
Photo: Gabriel Mokake
Dumbledore Is So Gay is booking at the VAULT Festival until 1st March

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