Drop the Dead Donkey - Greasepaint and stage Lights - Musicals

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Drop the Dead Donkey - UK Tour
(Milton Keynes)
(Review Complete)

Milton Keyne beckoned and off we went go to see Drop the Dead Donkey (The reawakening). Drop the dead donkey was a successful TV show in the 1990s. Globelink news brought you the latest news attacking the politicians of the day and getting news wrong with its somewhat amateur news desk presenters. So in comes the reawakening.

Synopsis
Gus (Robert Duncan) was the old GlobeLink boss and had now taken charge at the new TV news channel known as ‘Truth News’. A reawakening cannot happen without the old team coming back together. So one by one and with a round of applause, the old cast return to the stage. The old editor George (Jeff Rawle). Deputy editor Dave (Neil Pearson). Reporter (now promoted to newsreader) Damien (Stephen Tompkinson). Newsreader Sally Smedley (Victoria Wicks). Assistant editor Helen (Ingrid Lacey). Also we had a newly appointed Human Resource manager Joy (Susannah Doyle). Another new member of the cast was an intern “weathergirl” Rita (Kerena Jagpal) and an investigative journalist Mairead (Julia Hills). Still not sure what her role was. So the cast was now complete and the play began. Together they were tasked with getting Truth News off the ground and preparing to broadcast to the nation, algorithms permitting of course.

Review
The stage set was brilliant depicting a brand new, state of the art news set, with chrome and steel, latest desktop and laptop computers, a news desk, overhead screen to show incoming tweets and OB feeds. Also ceiling to floor windows showing London’s city skyline. Masterly created by Peter McKintosh.

Credit also must go to Peter Mumford, who’s lighting was spot on too, as were the costumes. The screen above the news desk showed incoming tweets, Outside broadcast feeds and even Trevor McDonald made an appearance on screen, but not for long!
 
The play was written by Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin, who I read actually wrote the original sitcom on TV. As the characters came onto the stage Dave being one of them, he was on the phone as he entered and was discussing the latest news of the day and for us this was the photoshop image of the Princess of Wales Mother’s Day picture.
Apart from some really funny one line jokey comments, the show did drag on a little and I could see that those who were not Drop the Dead Donkey fans, were slowly looking at their watches and wondering when it will end.

The plot was thin, the connections too vague and if it was not for the brilliant actors from the TV show, pushing the lines that had been given with such passion, it really would have been a dead donkey in itself.
 
There was very little in the way of “plot” and I’m sorry to say I thought it had an embarrassingly weak ending.
Fortunately for us, the production was filled with superb actors who brought their characters to life and got every ounce of humour out of the lines they had been given.

Robert Duncan brought an over-the-top pompus character to life. Jeff Rawle portrayed an excellent George, hesitant, uneasy and clumpsy. Neil Pearson, had attitude as his character Dave, delivered one after another of sarcastic asides.
Victoria Wicks presented her characters arrogance. Stephen Tompkinson’s in a wheelchair I hasten to add was a troubled individual who was fed up to his back teeth having to do the studio news desk presentation and he and his teddy Dimples, wanted to be back out reporting.

As I looked around the theatre, I could see some audience members hanging on every funny word or comment, while others look somewhat lost and were not sure what they had come to see. Some of the content was still dated and some a little close to what is happening in the world today in an awkward way.

If you are a fan of the TV show and the cast then please do go along and make your own mind up. For me it was the performances that were great, I am afraid it was the writer’s content that I struggled with. The ending was really quite dull. But the theatre was full. I wonder if it would be as full if the audience had not known about the TV show or its cast?
 
 


Reviewer:  Mark Bilsby
Greasepaint and Stage Lights

Email: musicals@btinternet.com
website: www.greasepaintandstagelights.co.uk
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