Drake’s Drummers – Callum Moffat, Pelham Grosvenor-Stevenson (aka Plum), and Adam Toon

They are currently rated as one of the hottest comedy stage acts by national critics, Broadway Baby. Their debut at the Edinburgh Fringe garnered four-star reviews, and they’ve been invited back to do no less than 21 dates this year. And all this just a matter of months since they formed, post graduation in 2014.

Q: How did you get into acting?

Cal. I did an A Level in drama but chose to do something more scientific at university (geography) because I thought it would be more useful in the long term. That’s what happens when 18-year olds make decisions that will affect the rest of their lives!

Adam. We all met through the University of Plymouth Amateur Dramatics (UPAD) society, all being on the committee in our final year. That’s when things became really interesting…

Cal. We used to write these enormous productions with, like, 28 characters. We wanted to get everyone in the society involved, regardless of ability, and in our third year we had more than 100 people involved in a six-hour production that consisted of six different shows.

Q: So what inspired you to form your own company?

Adam. It all started with Edinburgh…

Cal. Plum and I grew up in Stratford, with this enormous Shakespearean influence. And we were writing a play called Shakespeare’s Avengers Assembleth, in which we took these iconic characters – Shakespeare in the Nick Fury role, Romeo, Hamlet, Lady Macbeth, Ophelia and Brutus – and we smashed them together with as little subtlety and tact as possible. And Plum said he wanted to take it to Edinburgh.

Plum. I called this company and by chance they had just had a cancellation. They gave us the opportunity, and it was perfect because they had a 70-seat venue, and we sold out in more than half of our shows. When we got back we received a commission to write, produce and perform some shows for the Outpost Theatre Festival, and it was at that point we decided to form the company.

Q: Where does the name Drake’s Drummers come from?

Cal. Well, I was in Francis Drake Hall, and I’d heard about Drake’s Drum on a visit to Buckfast Abbey, and the myth that it will sound whenever England is in need. And we've loved living in the South West so much that we wanted an element of folklore in there.

Plum. It’s not that we’re egotists and narcissists whatsoever!

Meet the Drake's Drummers

"Shakespeare in the Nick Fury role, Romeo, Hamlet, Ophelia and Brutus – and we smashed them together with as little subtlety and tact as possible"

Visit the group's website
Drake's Drummers

Q: Who are your comedic influences?

Adam. We have a very similar sense of humour, and that really helps with the writing. Our influences would be Fry and Laurie, Blackadder, Monty Python – farcical stuff but not to the point of pantomime.

Q: How have you found the writing – especially with your scientific backgrounds?

Plum. When I wrote Shakespeare’s Avengers Assembleth, it was the first piece of writing I’d done since GCSEs. I sent it to Cal and he said, “We’re going to need some punctuation here!” But over the last six months, I feel we’re definitely developing our craft.

Q: So what have been the challenges of running your own company?

Adam. Finding rehearsal space has been perhaps the toughest thing. We’re all working part-time jobs and there are times when we’ve had to rehearse in parks and public spaces. But the University has been brilliant and has recently offered us rehearsal space in the Roland Levinsky Building. And one of the more surprising things we've found is that ‘performing’ is only a small part of running a theatre company. So many hours are spent on meetings, budgeting and devising – it’s much more of a business than we perhaps thought it would be.

Q: How much do you enjoy being up there on stage?

Plum. I love the acting. I mean, I still get terrified before I go on stage, but then three minutes in and I'm ‘get me back on that stage!’ It helps that we’re still laughing at our jokes months after we've first written them, and Cal also does things up there on stage that he’s never done in rehearsal. 

Cal. It’s like we’re trying to make each other corpse on stage… but that would be completely irresponsible of course...

Q: So what’s next?

Plum. We've been offered another slot at the Edinburgh Fringe, this time for 21 days, and we’re filming a trailer for the new play, which is a semi-sequel to Shakespeare’s Avengers Assembleth – titled Age of Oberon.

Cal. Our costumes are being made, and we’re close to our Kickstarter total to fund the trip – this time we’re going up with eight people. It’s great that critics have taken notice of us – we were recently placed in Broadway Baby’s top ten comedy acts, sandwiched between Reginald D Hunter and Paul Merton, so there’s a real sense of expectation now.

BA (Hons) Acting

In addition to studying on campus, including in our stunning purpose-built theatre The House, our partnership with Theatre Royal Plymouth enables our acting students to train with leading professionals on site,  learning to make and promote their own performances and being equipped for a career in today’s diverse theatre industry. 

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John Matthews, Programme Leader, BA (Hons) Acting