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Review: DROP THE DEAD DONKEY: THE REAWAKENING, Richmond Theatre

30 years since the launch of the trailblazing, smash-hit TV series, the GlobeLink News Team are back

By: Jun. 19, 2024
Review: DROP THE DEAD DONKEY: THE REAWAKENING, Richmond Theatre  Image
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Review: DROP THE DEAD DONKEY: THE REAWAKENING, Richmond Theatre  ImageThe nineties was a dream time for satirical television on Channel 4. Drop The Dead Donkey was a cult newsroom-based sitcom on the channel that ran over six series from 1990-98.

Set in the offices of GlobeLink News, Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin’s BAFTA and EMMY-winning storylines were recorded close to transmission, cunningly referencing real life current affairs. With a cast of dysfunctional characters, there was constant competition, backstabbing and hilarious incompetence.

Starring most of the original cast members, this new stage version sees yet another revival of a television series. It sees the team thrust back together in the world of 24-hour rolling news, social media and algorithms at a new TV station with the distinctly tongue-in-cheek name, Truth News. 

Review: DROP THE DEAD DONKEY: THE REAWAKENING, Richmond Theatre  Image

The missing characters are Henry and Alex (the late David Swift and Haydn Gwynne), both of whom receive sensitive mentions during the show. There are also two new characters in the show, Rita, the intern weather presenter (Kerena Jagpal) and Mairead (Julia Hills), secretly investigating the funding for the new channel.

Stephen Tompkinson returns as amoral reporter Damian; Jeff Rawle is still hilarious as hapless editor George and Neil Pearson's Dave is as caustic as ever with some very funny one-liners.

Robert Duncan's unhinged Gus is now a slave to his tablet and the rabbit hole of social media. Helen( an increasingly exasperated Ingrid Lacey) is staid and sensible and Victoria Wicks remains as un-PC as ever as self-important presenter Sally. Assistant, turned HR guru, Joy is played with wit and sinister undertones by Susannah Doyle.

Review: DROP THE DEAD DONKEY: THE REAWAKENING, Richmond Theatre  Image

Just as the original programme maintained current cultural and news references, the stage show keeps it very topical with nods to Trump, the Post Office scandal, the general election and even a comment about Sir Ian McKellen's fall off the stage a few nights ago.

The world of news today is ripe for skewering and the show contains some very astute and amusing observations about truth and what is actually real in what we see and read. The farcical elements of the show are well executed and the acerbic commentary is up-to-date and often very funny. However, occasionally the script loses its teeth a little, with meandering subplots and unfocused dialogue. Derek Bond's direction's is pacy in the first half, but flags a little in the second, with too much lingering on certain scenes. 

If you are new to the characters, some of the references to their previous incarnations may pass you by. However, If you loved the original series, there is much to enjoy here. 

Drop The Dead Donkey is at Richmond Theatre until 22 June

Photo Credits: Manuel Harlan




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