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Review - Dumbledore is so gay

Updated: Aug 24, 2023

Southwark Playhouse Borough

Playing until 23rd September 2023



Writer: Robert Holtom


Director: Tom Wright


Producer: Hannah Elsy Productions


Photo credit: David Jenson



Interview with Robert Holtom, writer of this show.


Review {AD-PR Invite}

Dumbledore is so gay, but so is everything else when you’re a child or a teenager. Gay is a common word used in any school playground that can have lasting impact on children and young people, especially for those that are not heterosexual. Jack (Alex Britt), having grown up in an environment in which homosexuality is not well understood or accepted, lacks confidence in himself and his decisions. As time passes and his actions lead to undesirable outcomes, he turns back time, multiple times, to change the past.


Robert Holtom’s story is linear in most parts, following the footsteps of Jack from his childhood to teenage years, reliving the trauma of coming out to his friends and family, and the suffering through the relationship with his best friend and crush, Ollie (Martin Sarreal). The play uses the time turner concept from the Harry Potter series, providing Jack, an avid fan of the franchise, a mean to change his past actions to acquire a more desirable outcome. While the time travel element is not a new concept and has been used in many different forms, it was interesting to see how Jack was effectively unable to achieve the results he wants despite multiple tries. However, the outcomes do improve with each attempt. Instead of repeating the entire scenario when time is turned back each time, we see a condensed version focusing on only the key elements, allowing the writer and director to maintain an exceptionally balanced and fast paced narrative, keeping the audience engaged at all times.


Britt, being the star of the show, has flawless control over his character, giving the audience passion and ecstasy when he kisses Ollie or experiencing the LGBTQIA+ environment for the first time, and hesitation and shyness when confronted by his parents and homophobic behaviours. Alex Britt is an exceptionally versatile actor and I eagerly anticipate his future work. Charlotte Dowding also showcases her flexibility in this play, taking on a myriad of roles including one of Jack’s best friends, Gemma, Jack’s mum and also his French teacher. Gemma in particular, receives a confidence boost in each version of reboot, ultimately finding her own value without the need for external validations. Like Dowding, Martin Sarreal, also takes on multiple characters, notably Jack’s crush, Ollie, and also Jack’s dad, Martin. While these two characters appear to be quite different, there is an underlying tone of awkwardness that runs through them both. Martin does not know how to interact with his son, thus resorting to grunts and silences most of the time, while Ollie lacks the confidence to confront his brother, family and the football lads when he discovers his sexuality. To this end, Sarreal subtlety conveys these traits and demonstrates incredible consistency throughout the show.


While the story and performance are both wonderful, the set felt, in my opinion, a little bare. Using a minimalistic approach, the set consists of a couple block of boxes, and used mostly as chairs and dance platforms. The various exchange of objects is acted out without a physical prop, and I could not help but feel that improvements could be made with some background projections when the three friends watch the Harry Potter movies, and other physical props to fill up what otherwise feels a rather empty space around the actors. In fact, some of these small props could be quite easily stashed away in the boxes and so would not necessarily clutter the stage. However, I would like to emphasise that this is a minor point that would have minimal effect on the enjoyability of the show.


Despite reality’s imperfections and Jack’s failure to ultimately achieve what he wants, Dumbledore is so gay serves a satisfying ending, tying up the parallel timelines with an ultimate message. It is not what we can change in the past, but how we decide to act now and change the future. This play serves as a reminder of how a single, sometimes what appears to be an inconsequential decision can have a domino effect on ourselves and the people around us. Whether you are a Potterhead or not, this hilarious story will surely make you belly laugh from start to finish, and make you wish for a time turner of your own to relive the experience.

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