Underbelly George Square Gardens

Myra DuBois: Dead Funny

13/08/21

Underbelly, George Square Gardens, Edinburgh

Myra DuBois is dead. Except for the fact that she is very much alive. But she wants us to pretend she’s dead, because this is her funeral. Clearly, she has to be here! If she waits until she’s actually dead, there’s no telling how it’ll go. This way, she’s in control, and can ensure it’s a suitably fabulous event.

As a conceit, this works well. It’s silly and audacious, and affords DuBois the chance to posture and self-aggrandise to her heart’s content. Actor Gareth Joyner’s alter-ego is an acerbic delight, bitching and carping her way through the proceedings, and eliciting helpless laughter from her audience along the way.

There’s nothing especially new here: DuBois clearly revels in exploring the old traditions of music hall, drag and cabaret. But it’s all so well done, so consummately performed, that it serves to remind us why these entertainment forms are so prevalent and popular. She’s funny. All the time.

If you’re shy, don’t sit on the front row. The Yorkshire diva’s best moments are when she’s interacting with (okay, picking on) the audience. She’s adept at choosing her victims: they’re lapping it up. Tonight, two men called Ross and Paul are singled out for special attention, along with a woman dressed in leopard print, whom DuBois keeps calling Lyndsey, even though she says her name is Louise (I can’t work out if this is part of the put-down or a genuine error). Someone shouts about a plot-hole in the punchline of a joke, and is told to fuck off, before being treated to the most venomous look I’ve ever seen. It doesn’t sound very funny when I write it down. It is though. The place erupts.

DuBois treats us to a reading, a poem by her sister and a few songs along the way. And oh, that voice. Annie Lennox somehow never managed to make Why sound quite like this…

RIP, Myra. You did yourself proud.

4 stars

Susan Singfield

The Mr. G Summer Heights High Singalong

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18/08/16

Udderbelly, George Square Gardens, Edinburgh

I am really excited about this event; Summer Heights High is a finely crafted piece of observational comedy and I’ve watched it more times than I care to admit.

And it starts well: the crowd is giddy; we are all given Mr G masks; some people are even in costume – and it’s lovely to see that Lou Sanders is our host for the night; we really enjoyed her 2015 Fringe show and are hoping we’ll be able to find the time to make it along to this year’s (What’s That Lady Doing? 20.10 each evening in the Pleasance Dome).

But sadly, the show doesn’t really work. There’s a technical failure (the screen goes blank for a good ten minutes and we lose a section, because there’s no time to rewind). But this isn’t the biggest issue. The real problem is the nature of the programme itself: it doesn’t work as a singalong. There are no full length songs at all, just snippets and odd lines, cleverly giving the impression – when you’re watching the series – of a complete school musical, but simply inadequate for a satisfying communal karaoke.

It’s a shame, but the excitement soon abates and the atmosphere is leaden. Even the appearance of a Celine lookalike, surely designed to wow the punters, fails to dispel the general sense of disappointment. Sanders does her best to keep the audience engaged but she’s fighting a losing battle, and it’s a subdued crowd that leaves the Udderbelly at 1 am.

It’s still a brilliant TV show though.

2.8 stars

Susan Singfield