Review by Daz Gale
A British comedy sensation makes a return to the West End this week, fresh from a rapturous run at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, Myra DuBois settles into London’s Peacock Theatre for 4 nights only before heading out on a UK tour. In her latest show ‘Be Well’, Myra dishes out her own brand of therapy in a bid to improve her audiences lives, but would this show be able to heal my soul or would I find it a bit of a drag?
The brainchild of Gareth Joyner, Myra DuBois came to prominence when she reached the semi-finals of Britain’s Got Talent in 2020 though she had been performing for many a year before that. No stranger to the stage, you will regularly find her in clubs and theatres up and down the country with a role in the murder mystery cult smash Death Drop under her belt. Her latest show may be her biggest yet, taking in a short residency in the West End amongst its tour stops.
All things considered, Myra DuBois is a fabulous comic creation. Drawing obvious comparisons to Dame Edna Everage and Lily Savage, her supposedly friendly demeanor is home to some cutting remarks, with some brilliant one-liners and the ability to hold an audience's attention with perfect comic timing. While her two predecessors are now sadly no longer with us, Myra gets to continue the legacy of Drag Queens in comedy.
The concept of ‘Be Well’ sees Myra take on a Saint like presence as she decides it is her destiny to heal everybody who needs it, or, as she puts it "A problem shared... is content". Hilariously quipping those in the first few rows are the ones who needed the most help and the circle was full of empty seats due to those people all being healed, it was her interaction with the audience that provided the highlight of the show with a couple of surprised volunteers being dragged up on stage to discuss their most personal problems in this private setting… in front of a West End audience, with Myra using the tried and tested method of her very own "sh*t bruschetta" (it will make sense if you see the show).
It was the spontaneity of the evening and Myra’s ability to react to even the most unexpected revelation from the all-too-willing-to-share audience members that truly elevated the show. It showed the genius-like quick nature of Myra as she didn’t miss a beat responding to whatever came up, also brilliantly handling hecklers making sure nobody dared to insult her. The scripted elements of the show had no shortage of laughs though at times I wished for more ad-libs and spontaneity as this was where she truly shined.
As a show, ‘Be Well’ allowed Myra to gently poke fun at an increasing obsession for wellness, though never belittling such matters. Though certain topics got a bit close to the knuckle at times, she never crossed the line with the sense that both audience and performer knew exactly what they were getting themselves in for and were all equally up for it.
Myra wasn’t the only performer on stage that evening. Her support act Frank Lavender bore an uncanny resemblance to Myra. Though both written by Gareth, this characters set didn’t manage to elicit the same amount of laughs though it did give us a chance to witness the versatility in Gareths writing. One great thing that did come from that set was the introduction to Franks wife and Myras sister Rose Lavender. With an uncanny ability to steal the show with just the slightest appearance in the background, her presence in both Frank and Myras sets created some of the biggest laughs of the show, whether it was her walking into a wall, interrupting Myras flow or her unbridled enthusiasm with a drumstick, she was an unexpected highlight and left me longing to see more of her.
Myra DuBois is a dream of a comic creation - loveable but with an edge that means you should never be too comfortable around her. Being able to see a full length show of hers having been teased with snippets on stage and screen before was a long time coming and certainly didn’t disappoint. While not every element worked as well as others, the hit rate in this show was strong enough to ensure the smile didn’t leave my face throughout. In ‘Be Well’, Myra aims to give her own dose of therapy in an attempt to heal the nation – this wickedly funny show proves that laughter really is the best medicine.
Be Well played the Peacock Theatre in London and now is on tour all over the UK. Dates and tickets from www.myradubois.co.uk
Photos by YesZebra