Alex Britt will reprise the role of Jack when the critically acclaimed Dumbledore Is So Gay returns to the stage at The Pleasance Theatre in September. Also reuniting to tell this optimistic story of self-love and friendship are Max Percy and Charlotte Dowding.
This VAULT Festival sell out is a refreshing coming out and coming of age story of life as a noughties teenager. Life is far from straight for Jack: he pines for his best friend while dodging bullies with minds as narrow as the cupboard under the stairs. And the official online quiz sorted him into Hufflepuff. On a mission to get the guy and re-write history in his favour, Jack uses his trusty Time Turner to go back in time to right the wrongs of the past.
Dumbledore Is So Gay, starring Alex Britt, is at The Pleasance Tuesday 21st – Sunday 26th September 2021. Tickets are on sale here. The production will also be available to stream on demand for a limited time, more information can be found here.
Dumbledore Is So Gay is coming to The Pleasance, what can you tell us about the play?
Well…Dumbledore Is So Gay is a hilariously silly, beautiful and fast-paced rollercoaster ride! It’s such a fun yet hopeful play, and although it deals with some dark and highly relatable themes, it’s a witty and charming show about what it means to grow up different, and what the experience of coming out was like in the noughties.
It’s about Jack, who loves two things: Harry Potter and his best friend, Ollie. So it’s about being in love with a boy, and what that feels like when you are yourself a boy; and it’s about wanting to go back and change things over and over again when they go horribly wrong for you.
It ran at VAULT Festival just before the pandemic, what’s your favourite memory of the experience?
There’s almost too many to choose from: performing this show at the VAULT Festival was such an all-round joyful experience. However, there is one moment that does stick out in particular to me. It’s a moment when we were all sitting in the bar after our opening night. Tom (our brilliant director), Robert (our excellent writer), our amazing cast and crew, all of us, just shared a drink together after getting some much-needed post-show notes. It sounds quite mundane, as all we were really doing was just sharing a space together as a company; chatting, laughing, joking. But, as our rehearsal process was so crazy, full-on, and, quite frankly, short (not that I should be admitting that!), it was one of the first times we actually got to sit together as a group and properly talk to each other.
And I really got to know the people I was working with. I mean, I think we marvelled quite a bit at how the hell we pulled together something in such a short space of time (but that’s all credit to Tom, and his genius, really!). But it was a moment that will stick with me because I could feel how proud we all were of what we’d accomplished. And to be honest, we were just really excited that we were going to be able to offer something fun and fresh to an audience every night.
And how does it feel bringing it back so soon after theatres have been able to reopen?
It feels amazing. There’s been some brilliant theatre since the lockdown ended, and The Pleasance is a theatre I’ve admired and loved for such a long time. It feels really very special to be able to perform the show here, at this time, when theatres have been shut for so long.
I feel incredibly lucky, like I’ve won an actor’s lottery. The show really was just a joy to perform back in February of 2020, just before the world turned upside down, so it’s a real blessing to be able to bring it back and share Jack’s journey with more people. Especially at a time where kindness and acceptance are as important as ever.
What were your first thoughts when you read Robert Holtom’s script?
I absolutely adored it. I finished it in one sitting, I couldn’t stop reading it. I had to know what happened to Jack! I’m pretty sure it made me late to meet a friend for coffee, now I think about it. But I thought it was such a funny and exciting, yet heartfelt and endearing script. I really loved how Robert was able to create such an intimate and beautiful relationship between Jack and the audience.
In a way, they’re his confidant, his journal, and his monologues to the audience are some of my favourites of Robert’s writing. The play also felt very personal to me. As a big Harry Potter fan, who grew up at the same time as Jack, I was really desperate to be a part of it in some way, shape or form – I’d have happily been a Whomping Willow, upstage, if need be!
Why do you think this coming out story has resonated so strongly with audiences?
Well, I think it’s because the play deals with such universal themes: themes in which we can all relate and find aspects of ourselves. Every person, gay, straight, trans, bisexual, non-binary, has experienced love in some form. Everyone knows the feeling of regret, and has wished to go back and change things from your past. And Robert has crafted moments of wit and humour right alongside pain and suffering. Just like life does. Jack is a character who just wants to be himself. He wants to love who he loves, and change the world, just a little bit, if it’ll let him. So, who isn’t a little bit like Jack, really?
You play Jack, what do you like most about the character?
I love Jack. I really do. I fell in love with him immediately. He’s such an affable and charming character. He has the capacity to be so strong and fearless in the face of some pretty difficult obstacles, and, in some ways, I really see a lot of my own story/journey in Jack.
I wish I were more like him myself, to be honest! But what I love most about him is that throughout his many challenges – his bullies, his shame, his naivety – he’s actually really willing to learn and to do better by his mistakes. His optimism and energy always shines through, and he’s brave in ways that any Gryffindor (like myself) could wish for! I’m so honoured and privileged to be able to play him.
The entire original cast are reprising their roles, what are you looking forward to most about being back in the rehearsal room with them?
Both Charlotte (Dowding) and Max (Percy) are simply…phenomenal. They’re such generous and talented actors, but also, so genuinely lovely to be around. Charlotte has such a wonderful, contagious energy. You can’t help but fall in love with her the moment you meet her. And Max is a brilliant physical performer; he’s always offering great ideas, and is so active and present when you’re working with him. I’m really looking forward to laughing with them again in the room. I’m looking forward to playing and enjoying bringing this story to life – because we really do love this show, and we have such a great time together doing it.
What would you say to anyone thinking of coming to see Dumbledore Is So Gay?
Oh, go on! Treat yourself. What’s the worst that could happen?! Don’t be like a Dementor, floating around, sucking souls, and draining the life out of others because you missed the show…bring some joy into your life! Queer it up a bit. Plus, there’s no Time Turners here, so don’t miss it, because you can’t go back and change it if you do… (although, I should say Dumbledore Is So Gay will be available to watch On Demand if you do miss it live, but for a limited time only)!