Gilded Balloon Teviot (Venue 14)
Aug 11th – 28th (not 15th) 21:15
Since the fabulous birth of RuPaul’s Drag Race there has been a swing towards highlighting and celebrating the glamour and extravagant beauty that can be found in the art of drag. As a self-confessed new AdMyra, I hope DuBois will not mind me noting that ladies of a certain age, and background, need to sharpen their tongues to keep traditional British drag alive. Indeed, it’s a shame that a city the size of Edinburgh doesn’t have any venues featuring this kind of act on a regular entertainment schedule.
There has always been a play between flamboyant glamour and common gutter humour in drag, and DuBois sets this up from the beginning by describing our initial applause as being like the sound of “chips frying” and ordering a large G&T from the bar. When choosing which 2016 celebrity death to work into the act, it is the wonderfully down to earth Paul Daniels who provides the well-intentioned jokes. Myra might want to reclaim the word “bitch” but throughout the show the jokes are just the right side of bitchy in a performance that never sinks to the easy lows of vulgarity seen in less accomplished drag performers. Every ten seconds there is a self-depreciating laugh, an audience rebuttal, or quick one-liner to keep the laughter much louder than might be expected from quite a small audience.
Even the minor setback of choosing a rather lackluster audience participant during a game-show segment doesn’t faze Dubois – she manages to fill the segment with jokes despite this, using her unbridled energy to keep the audience with her throughout the entire set.
Being able to make jokes of bad taste – Princess Diana, dead children, the deaf and disabled are all targets of DuBois’ vicious wit – and not come across as a nasty piece of work is such a skill, and DuBois has the art mastered. You might feel a little guilty as you laugh your guts up, but her genuine likeability makes it an OK space to do so. The more subtle sections also show the cleverness of the writing and I found the part where she read a segment from her unpublished book one of the show’s highlights. If I was DuBois I’d make this part ever so slightly more tragic and give the show a subtle moment of reflection where we see that DuBois (in character) still has impossible dreams of making it “big” one day.
This is a show all about the talents of Myra DuBois, of which she has many and which her strongest is in creating a drag show that is clever, relevant and, most importantly, just incredibly funny.