🎭 Drop Dead
📍 Drayton Arms Theatre, 153 Old Brompton Road, London, SW5 0LJ
🗓 Tuesday 2nd January 2024
Drop Dead is playing all this week at the Drayton Arms Theatre after a succesful run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival last year. The talented company are made up of the team at Blue Pears Productions who have created the piece.
As I entered the auditorium on a rainy January night I was greeted with a coffin front and centre on the stage. A little disconcerting maybe but given the name of the play I guess it wasn't a total surprise! This gave the impression that I was about to witness a heavy play but nothing could be further from the truth.
The story plays out at a funeral. But this is a funeral like no other because the man in the coffin is alive! This is a funeral rehearsal! The man in the coffin is Will and his specially curated guest list brings together an eclectic mix of characters to say the least.
Firstly there's Gareth who is an old friend of Will's, although I got the impression that they hadn't seen each other for a long time. Gareth is a little highly strung and is in attendance with his 22 year old twins Sam and Ralph who have never met Will and are suitably confused by the entire thing.
Then there's widow-to-be Penelope Anastasia, Penas to her friends, a snobbish girl about town who seems to be enjoying her hostess duties. She is significantly younger than her husband and it's clear early on that she has a shared history with Sam.
The last two guests are eccentric psychic medium Celeste and groundskeeper Alistair with his charmingly simple outlook on life.
This play had me laughing out loud from the very start as this talented company executed perfect comic timing as they delivered a flawless performance. There were moments of Austin Power-esque comedy which has cleverly been hinted at in the pre-show music.
There was an extremely strong ending to the first act and I was left with a multitude of questions to ponder during the interval. 'Why is Will having a funeral rehearsal?', 'Why don't certain characters know about each other?' and the big one 'Will Will change his will?'.
The play constantly evolved in style, while perfectly keeping the core storyline afloat. There was an hilarious scene in act 2 when some of the actors played the thoughts of other characters which gave the auidience a comic look into what they were really thinking.
There were great performances from everyone but for me personally the standout performance came from Alexander Bittar as Gareth. He was wonderful throughout as he juggled hidden secrets, emotions and controlling his children! He became more and more erratic as the story progressed but always managed to keep the realism and never crossing over to obserdity.
Madeleine Clark also gave a strong performance as Penelope Anastasia, the severerly well spoken social climbing wife who is more interested in her social status and material possesions than anything else. Perhaps the most unlikeable of the characters, she is completely endeering and you can't help but be drawn to her.
Celeste is perhaps the most over-the-top and eccentric of all the characters but Flo Lunnon portrays her wonderfully and manages to keep her rooted in reality. I loved how she over pronounced certain words, reminding me of how Nigella Lawson famously pronounced 'microwave'!
Paddy Court brought a cuteness and huge likability to Alistair while Noah Tucker was wonderfully naive as the painfully immature Ralph. Sam was possibly the most complex and realistic character and Tara Farquhar brought her to life magnificently.
The strong performances mixed with exceptional writing made Drop Dead a hit for me. I loved how I could be looking at any character in any scene and they'd be doing something that either made me laugh or intrigued me. This shows that the piece had been produced and directed with an insane amount of detail and is to be applauded.
Drop Dead is playing at the Drayton Arms Theatre in London until Saturday 6th January and it's really a fantastic feel-good show with a darkly hilarious finale. One thing's for sure, you'll die laughing at this hilarious play!
Head to https://www.thedraytonarmstheatre.co.uk/tickets/sima now to secure your tickets.