It is nearing the end of 2018 and what we like to do here on The Phoenix Remix is celebrate the world of improv and what a year it has been! There has been so many great acts and shows this year and it has been really hard to decide who to interview for our mini awards that we hold at the end of the year. So on the run up to new year we will have a couple of exclusive interviews with some of the best acts that we have had the privilege of seeing or listening to this year.
Today we start with an act who I feel that 2018 has really been this year, they have gone from a troupe that was a whisper amongst the improv social medias to a group that are getting bigger and bigger by the minute. I have seen their show this year and was amazed at how they managed to make an improvised show not feel improvised. So for my personal choice, the Improv Act of the Year is Dragprov Revue.
Congratulations Dragprov Revue you have won the award for best Improv Act of 2018 How do you feel?
Eaton: Pretty bloomin’ wonderful I should say!
Christian: We’re tickled pink.
Eaton: Tickled fuchsia.
Christian: We’re happy and lurid at any rate.
How did the idea of Dragprov Revue come around?
Eaton: We’ve been performing together for years, more than I’d care to count-
Christian: I think it’s about five?
Eaton: OK lovely thanks for counting. We met in the Oxford Imps, a group which has spawned a number of the improv performers and acts currently gracing the scene.
Christian: And we’ve always had a soft spot for musical improv. I for one am a big musical theatre fan.
Eaton: As am I. My teenage angst records were the Rent and Les Miserables soundtracks…
Christian: On one occasion we were improvising a musical that was set is a gym. I played a girl who didn’t want to be femme, and Eaton played a guy who didn’t want to be part of the masc gym-bro culture.
Eaton: Gave me flashbacks to P.E, I can tell you.
Christian: All this ended with our two characters triumphantly singing ‘Let’s get together if you know what I mean, I can be your drag king; you can be my drag queen’. The audience reaction was so great, we thought hang on – let’s do an improv drag cabaret act!
Eaton: And in the run up to this we’d been growing increasingly interested in trying drag, so it all seemed to fall into place.
How long does it take you to get into drag?
Christian: It depends if we are together. I can do it by my-self in an hour
Eaton: – an hour if we are doing speed drag on a train-
Christian: [sings] DRAG ON A TRAIN!
Eaton: But if we are together we talk and muck around so…
Christian: We can drag it out over two hours easily.
… Drag it out.
Eaton: Stop it Christian.
What are your plans for 2019?
Christian: All the gigs.
Eaton: We’re doing Brighton Fringe, very exciting, at Komedia. And generally doing spots at our favourite drag and Impro venues / events: The Miller, Nursery, The Glory, Apples and Pears Cabaret, Felix and Friends, etc.
Christian: and we have OUR OWN SHOW that launched December 1st, The Velvet Curtain Club, at the London Improv Theatre. Plus we are bumping up our Oxford Cabaret Club to a monthly affair, with guest spots.
Eaton: And that’s not to mention all the plotting that’s underway for the Edinburgh Fringe.
Christian: My my, we are busy.
Why do you think people really enjoy the Dragprov Revue?
Eaton: I think people come to see our relationship play out on stage. Audiences fall in love with Christian and Eaton as a duo –
Christian: Nothing screams ‘a hit show’ like co-dependency!
Eaton: – and I think they like watching for the moments where you see our actual friendship show through, as well as moments of vulnerability in the characters themselves.
Christian: Let’s not forget the music. People are consistently impressed by the fact that our songs sound like written songs. We have a really solid genre knowledge and some incredible pianists to work with, so the music in the show has a very polished feel.
Eaton: …also Christian’s modesty.
Tell us all about how 2018 has been for you?
Eaton: Pretty full on-
Christian: But exciting!
Eaton: Oh yes, hugely exciting. It’s been incredible to watch Dragprov develop, and to see people respond so positively; even people you just wouldn’t expect.
Christian: Definitely. We started Dragprov as two friends being creative and having loads of fun in the process, and that’s something we’ve always held on to.
Eaton: If you’re having fun, people tend to have fun with you-
Christian: -and we often get people who didn’t think they’d ever like improv, or thought that drag wasn’t for them, who say that we completely surprised them. We will convert them all… mwhahaha!
What has been some of your highlights of performing as Dragprov Revue of this year?
Christian: My highlight was our last Oxford show. It was absolutely packed out and the crowd have been following us for years, so there was a beautiful family atmosphere. It felt… Right. Yaknow?
Eaton: Headlining Rachel Parris’ Musical Comedy Club at the Edinburgh Fringe was pretty darn special. Share that stage with performers we really admire, and getting such a great reception from the crowd, that’s definitely up there as one of my personal highlights.
The one thing I really like about The Dragprov Revue is that it doesn’t feel like improv, it is very natural and even entertaining for people who are not fans of the format – do you tend to have a mixed batch of audiences?
Christian: Last Edinburgh, we had a great mix of queer draggy folk, improv folk, and middle-aged women who were lured in by my charm.
Eaton: Our humour is heavily influenced by the likes of Monty Python and Blackadder, as well as more recent shows like The Mighty Boosh that deploy fantastical characters and world building. So as well as young drag and improv fans we get a strong older contingent who grew up with those classics (as did we), who come to see us doing witty songs and skits.
Christian: Exactly. Our humour is family friendly, so we often get parents bringing their kids who like drag from RuPaul and Instagram, but can’t get into any of the usual late night shows.
What have been some of your favourite improv shows you have seen this year and why?
Christian: GHOST COUPLE – especially Ruth Bratt in literally whatever she does. I’m obsessed.
Eaton: I have to agree. We were recently on a billing with them at HOOPLA, and it was such a joyous experience. A lot of improvisers talk about ‘playing’, but with them that’s really what it is – every moment is an exciting discovery, for the performers and for the audience.
What other drag acts (improv or other) do you find inspiring and why?
Christian: Colin Hoult’s character ‘Anna Man’ straddles comedy and drag in the same way that we do, using audience interaction that builds them up rather than knocking down. I’d like to think Anna, Christian and Eaton would get on very well, and have a heated story-topping debate about traditional theatre darling. Watching Hoult’s show in Ediburgh was very formative indeed. Also Francesca Reid’s hilarious drag king alter ego, Brent Would.
Eaton: Oh yes! They are incredible, and are also just a powerhouse of innovative musical improv shows / production. Is there anything they aren’t in?
Christian: Drag-improv skills wise, I’d say Felix Le freak (drag queen), Sue Gives a Fuck (queen), and Kemah (drag King), all of whom do incredible audience interaction work.
Eaton: Also Cinebra (drag-comedy duo). When we first watched them we were like, yes, this is a duo dynamic that we really find exciting to watch unfold on stage. At risk of exposing my inner ‘basic-yaaas-girl’, I must say that Trixie Mattel and Katya Zamolodchikova have been rather formative too.
Where do you see Dragprov Revue in a years time?
Eaton: Probably Smethick-
Eaton: As STARS of stage and screen…
Christian: erm… Also with a successful run of our show somewhere fun. Big lights. Big show.
Eaton: – and with a YouTube series! We have many plans afoot. And moving to a digital platform fitting of 2019 is certainly one of them.