Creator: Gareth Joyner
A self-confessed quadruple threat, drag legend Myra DuBois returns to live performance with a new show, A Problem Shared. A recent semi-finalist in Britain’s Got Talent, and soon to be appearing in the film adaptation of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, DuBois is going mainstream.
In the first of a series of online screenings, A Problem Shared starts by declaring its tone. While we wait for Ms DuBois, a series of adverts play in true YouTube style. DuBois’ range of merchandise is sandwiched between ads for beauty treatments and remedies for gentleman “who struggle”. It is clear, from the outset, that this is no ordinary drag show. A Problem Shared is defined as an interactive self-help seminar. Appearing live from her very own home, DuBois sets out her stall for the uninitiated. She is a wellness facilitator, with a “passion for compassion”. With her three tenets of aromatherapy, positive reinforcement and serenity breathing, A Problem Shared is a show designed to help us through our troubles.
This live show is the inheritor of DuBois’ weekly Facebook broadcast, streamed live during lockdown. A Problem Shared quickly found its audience, and DuBois has not forgotten that loyalty. On emerging from behind a golden curtain, the showbiz introduction is briefly dropped, just for a moment, as Myra leans into the camera and asks if we’re alright. She pauses, and there is silence. It forms a genuine connection between performer and audience. As her creator, Gareth Joyner understands the importance of building relationships – and it is something that Myra does exceptionally well. DuBois’ persona is warm, welcoming with enough acerbic bite to please the fans.
After introducing the crew, we get down to business. Audience members have been asked to tweet in their problems to Myra. As she reads the tweets, Ms DuBois dispatches advice on all manner of subjects from dodgy plumbing to the impact of loneliness whilst working at home. DuBois’ solution to that particular problem is somewhat unorthodox.
Despite the initial jeopardy of the evening (will enough people tweet in their problems?), DuBois settles into her groove. Myra’s comedy is sharp-edged and topical – and no subject is off the (kitchen) table. DuBois is not afraid to tackle the big issues, and ruminations on mortality lead, as they quite naturally do, into song. DuBois’ original music gives voice to our worst fears, but instead of drowning in despair, we laugh. It’s a brilliant touch – this is self-help for the Covid era, and DuBois taps into a shifting mood: a realisation that things may never be exactly as they were. We have changed, collectively, and that’s okay.
It is this emphasis on facing our problems that elevates the show into something really special. A Problem Shared acknowledges that our way of thinking about mental health, especially our own, has altered. While Myra’s high-octane glamour may dazzle us, this is a drag artist that wears her heart on her sleeve. A Problem Shared delivers on its promise – and right now that’s something to be grateful for.
Next online here on 28 October 2020