Show preview: Healing King Herod

Coming to the London Clown Festival before a run at the Edinburgh Fringe, Healing King Herod is a “chaotic drag-clown fiasco” performed by Riss Obolensky and directed by Eloïse Poulton.



Where: Soho Theatre Upstairs

When: 17 Jun, 7pm

Ticket link:


Where: Underbelly, Cowgate

When: 16-20, 22-27 Aug, 9.40pm

Ticket link:

Riss and Eloïse tell us more about the show, which has received support and funding to allow it to play at Edinburgh.

Production photo for Healing King Herod

Healing King Herod is a drag clown one-person show that previously ran at Vault and is now previewing at Soho in advance of the Edinburgh Fringe. What should audiences expect?

A uniquely chaotic blend of new-age practices, embodied rituals, and collective catharsis­ facilitated by a despotic biblical king with a bloodlust for killing babies. It’s all very conventional. Audiences can expect to be fully healed as a result.

Yes. It’s a big claim, but Herod’s program has a 120% success rate, according to one audience member. We promise participants the absolute ride of their lives. There is also a slide show.

You had a Show of the Week award nomination at Vault and now Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Keep it Fringe to fund your run in Scotland. How did it feel to get the show recognised in this way?

We’ve been overjoyed by the reaction to the show since its first work in progress performances last year. Healing King Herod was born from the depths of the experimental cabaret scene.

From the offset, it was destined for a Netflix feature, but we cannot deny its roots. Having the show recognized by such an awarding body was very validating, and gives us permission to stretch the material into something darker and more absurd.

The Keep it Fringe fund has given us such a boost as artists. Without the fund, as an unfunded team of two, we wouldn’t be taking it to Edinburgh this year. So this level of recognition has quite literally been the making of us.

Your Soho date is part of the London Clown Festival. Tell me a bit about how it feels to be part of that?

We’re thrilled to be part of it! Every year, the festival celebrates all things contemporary clown and the line-up this year is phenomenal. It’s incredible for us to be platformed at Soho Theatre alongside many award-winning clowns and friends.

The clowning community is known for championing fellow artists and uplifting one another. From the beginning, this show has been so supported by the community, and the London Clown Festival is just another example of this.

Riss, you mentioned in a previous interview about both Herod and drag kings being political. The drag king scene feels very vibrant right now -what’s most important to you about it?

We stan a vibrant king. What excites me about the scene is just how varied, nuanced and innovative it is.

I feel like we’ve moved beyond embodying classic tropes of masculinity to some pretty mindblowing, intelligent, and uncanny artistry. It’s popping off, for want of a better term.

Furthermore, my experience of the scene in Bristol and (soon to be) in London, has been so welcoming, supportive and orientated around the needs of the community.

Having moved amongst various performance ‘scenes’, the kinging scene doesn’t have much room for massive egos. And there is space to just ‘try something out’. This is so important!

What are you looking forward to the most in Edinburgh?

Whilst we, the creators, love flyering, Herod is excited to meet his new subjects – I mean audiences.