This Sunday, Myra DuBois – the self-declared siren of South Yorkshire – will be unleashing her brand new show DuBois Entendre at the Charing Cross Theatre, with support from Yorkshire’s own Frank Lavender. We sent writer, performer and scene celebrity Gareth Joyner to talk to Myra about this new show and to find out more about Frank.
Myra DuBois is hungover. I should have anticipated this really when choosing our meeting time of 2pm, an hour of the day that I know to be considered ‘morning’ in GMT – ‘General Myra Time’.
“I feel like shite,” she confides. “I usually blame the tonic but this morning it’s definitely the gin – don’t print that,” she adds, jabbing a chewed but painted nail in the direction of my notepad. “Oh dear…” I feign sympathy. It’s usually best to let Ms DuBois know that you’re on her side. “Where were you last night?” Myra removes her sunglasses and looks at me blankly. “Home. Where would I go on a Monday?” She waves at a member of bar staff who immediately knows the drill, and before long a freshly prepared G&T is fizzing on the table between us.
At the request of Boyz magazine – who’ve chosen me to pose the questions simply because I’ve known her the longest – I’ve summoned Myra to the Retro Bar at this apparently ungodly hour to discuss her new show DuBois Entendre, which launches round the corner at the Charing Cross Theatre this Sunday.
I’ve enjoyed and endured having Myra in my life for nearly a decade now after catching, by sheer coincidence, her first London performance at Madame Jojo’s in 2008. “Oh, were you at that?!” exclaims Myra, newly animated at the opportunity to discuss herself. “Oh I was very new to cabaret back then, I wouldn’t have been anywhere near as good as I am now.”
The expectancy of that last sentence hangs between us in a form so tangible that it could be chewed. I know my place.
“You were wonderful,” I tell her. “You always are.”
Myra displays her gratitude in a smile that can’t help but be self-satisfied, but it’s hard to be irritated by this. Myra’s charisma is, though near-paranormal, quite undeniable.
“So tell me more about the show,” I ask. “DuBois Entendres. It’s an interesting title, care to elaborate?”
“It’s a pun, Gareth.” Myra sets down her drink, ready to underscore her explanation with hand gestures, her hangover apparently now forgotten. “A play on my chosen surname, DuBois.”
“Oh yes, you’re no longer ‘Myra Prescott’. Any reason for that?”
“Does ‘Prescott’ say Light Entertainment to you? I thought ‘DuBois’ would look better on a theatre marquis. Although so far I’ve only seen it in chalk outside gay bars, but you take the work where you can. I like to think of Prescott as my maiden name and DuBois as my married name. I’m married to my audience. Who, as it happens, named the show in a competition I ran on Facebook. I’m very big on audience engagement.”
“So aside from being a name based pun, what’s the show about?”
“I’ll be honest with you, Gareth…” Myra’s voice lowers to a tone that I suspect she thinks to be discreet sincerity. “I’ve had a few complaints at my shows recently…”
“Oh?” I ask, encouragingly. She raises a hand.
“I shall say no more in this interview, it’s all in the show. But I have had a habit of saying one thing when I’ve meant quite another. It’s something I’ve called a DUBOIS Entendre, and I hope to explain and rectify them over the course of the show.”
“You’ve employed a warm up act for the first time…”
I stop mid-sentence. Myra has frozen mid-sip. She places her gin and tonic down and looks me square in the eye.
“Frank Lavender.” She takes a moment to compose herself. “I’m not thrilled about it, but it is what it is.”
“Care to tell us who he is?”
Myra picks up her gin and tonic. “If the readers are that bloody curious about who Frank bloody Lavender is then they’ll just have to come to the show on Sunday, won’t they?”
I know when to leave a subject alone.
“So, Myra, to conclude, please tell our readers why they should see your show this Sunday…”
“It’s the birth of a brand new show featuring song, anecdotes and jokes ahead of the Edinburgh Fringe, and my second ever UK tour! It’s an opportunity to say ‘I was there’. It would be crass of me to compare it to The Rolling Stones in Hyde Park in ’69, but that’s what it’ll be like.”
Five Quick Questions for Frank
Name? Francis ‘Frank’ Michael Lavender.
Occupation? Comedian par excellent, funny man extraordinaire.
First time in London? Second ever but first time with Myra and I’m very excited.
First time working with Myra? We did an amateur pantomime together back in Rotherham once, but this is the first time professionally.
Tell us a joke: What does Mystic Meg have in common with compact discs? They’re both obsolete mediums.