Review: DON'T. MAKE. TEA. Tron Theatre, Glasgow

Don't. Make. Tea. runs at the Tron Theatre until 13 April

By: Apr. 12, 2024
Review: DON'T. MAKE. TEA. Tron Theatre, Glasgow
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Review: DON'T. MAKE. TEA. Tron Theatre, Glasgow

It's the year 2037 and Chris (Gillian Dean) is undergoing a benefits assessment in the UK. Chris is a former police detective who had to leave her job due to health deterioration. Ralph (Neil John Gibson) is her assessor, a man who believes in the system and thinks it is motivating individuals and empowering them back into work.

Don't. Make. Tea. is written by Rob Drummond, directed by Robert Softley Gale and produced by Birds of Paradise Theatre Company. As with all Birds of Paradise productions, access is integrated into the show. The performance is signed by Emery Hunter who is also a character in the show, captions appear above the stage and audio description comes from 'Able'. Able is an Alexa-type device that aims to help disabled people around the home. As Chris is partially sighted, it offers her descriptions of what is happening on stage which also serves the audience.

Ralph is pleasant as he starts to question Chris about her application. Her current benefits have been frozen while she applies under the new system. The system gives you points for capabilities but Ralph and Chris have different interpretations of capable. For example, being able to prepare her own food less than half of the time and being in severe pain if she does, would qualify Chris as 'able to prepare own food'.

Chris has oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy (OPMD) which means she is losing her eyesight and is in severe pain most of the time. As Ralph points out she is 'losing not lost' and 'most of the time not all of the time'. Gibson manages to maintain a sunny demeanour while asking Chris to degrade herself so he can assess her mobility. 

The script is witty and the satire is sharp from the beginning but as this isn't my first BOP Theatre production, I was waiting for it to get even darker. And darker it got! This dramatic comedy turned almost thriller in Act Two in a move that has to be seen to be believed. The surreal is dialled up as the electronic device Able takes human form (the fantastic Richard Conlon) and acts as Chris' subconscious as well as a helping hand.

Don't. Make. Tea. is another triumph from Birds of Paradise, a darkly comic piece that packs a punch.

Photo credit: Andy Catlin


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