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Drop the Dead Donkey - The Reawakening

Drop the Dead Donkey - The Reawakening

BREAKING NEWS: 30 years since the launch of the trailblazing, smash-hit TV series, the Globelink News team are back, and now live on stage for the very first time.

Starring the original cast members Susannah DoyleRobert DuncanIngrid LaceyNeil PearsonJeff RawleStephen Tompkinson and Victoria Wicks, the iconic BAFTA and EMMY award-winning comedy is reimagined in this brand-new topical commentary on the cutthroat world of 24 hours news.

Bursting with razor-sharp wit and classic British humour, this hot off the press production will leave you in stitches. Written by the same award-winning writing team Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin (Outnumbered), Drop The Dead Donkey: The Reawakening! exposes the underside of the broadcasting industry in all its riotous glory. Whether you’re one of the legions of die-hard fans of the TV sitcom that was watched by millions at its peak, or a British comedy fanatic, come and experience this hilarious revival of an all-time comedy classic.

Watch our "In Conversation with Andy Hamilton" video discussing the show

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Drop the Dead Donkey - The Reawakening ON TOUR

Our review on Drop the Dead Donkey - The Reawakening

Drop The Dead Donkey - The Reawakening - The Lowry, Salford - Tuesday 13th February 2024 by Karen Ryder

Our Rating

Whether you avidly watched the BAFTA and Emmy award winning TV show Drop The Dead Donkey in the 1990’s or not, you will rejoice in this hilariously intelligent, quick witted and topical reawakening that has taken itself on tour.  Penned by original writers and creators Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin, it proudly sticks to its award winning formula, delights us with original cast members, all the while being bang up to date, entirely relevant and playfully mocking of the technological ‘advances’ the past 30 years have brought us.  I absolutely loved this show and by the interval had already stated that I simply didn’t want it to end.

We last saw The GlobeLink News team scattered, shattered and splattered around the world as the station was shut down under dubious circumstances so I was curious to discover how they would be reunited.  The show opens with the stage set up as a news room, with ‘Truth News’ blazing at out at us.  A screen is dropped and we are treated to a clip from series one (to much delight from the audience) where we see George, Damien and Dimbles the Teddy Bear.  If you know, you know, and if you don’t then I promise you aren’t excluded, all does become clear.  Chief Editor George then stumbles onto the stage and the love from the audience cannot be contained.  In fact, each original cast member was greeted with applause as they entered the stage one by one.  It transpires that some unknown business tycoon has funded a shiny new News broadcasting station, and recruited Gus to get the team back together.

As they reminisce and catch up, we discover what each of the characters has been up to for the last 30 years, and how that has led them all to accept this questionable job offer.  But when this team get together, chaos is never far away, and despite their initial enthusiasm…….even if that is for the sizable pay packet……..things never run smoothly.  As the team try to navigate their way around a world of news broadcasting that has advanced from the one they left behind, little do they realise that perhaps they are about to become the headlines themselves rather than simply reading them.  Social media, AI, voice activated coffee machines, and supposedly superior algorithms are seemingly the way forward.  But in a world where scandals, lies, and fake news are currency, and no one will tell you who your boss is, can we ever really trust that the truth in the world of broadcasting is ever really the truth at all?

The joy of Drop The Dead Donkey The Reawakening! doesn’t just lie in nostalgia, nor does it rely on it.  The joy is to be found in every layer, every nuance, and every cleverly thought-out concept.  Of course, the nostalgia plays a huge part for those who hold the show dear to their hearts, and there is something beautifully special in reuniting the original cast and seeing a genuine bond between them all.  But this isn’t a show simply trying to live off its past glories.  It looks itself in the eye, accepts its own challenge, and smashes it.  The script is jam packed with current news topics and nothing or no one is off limits.  With jibes and jokes at politics, politicians, the Royal family, TV presenters, generation X, all of the ‘isms including wokeism, and a lovely dollop of recent media stories, you will find yourself belly laughing at the sheer volume of one liners, gallows humour and the freedom it brings.

The algorithm system is called out and renamed Harvey Weinstein for suggesting viewers might like to see a little more from its broadcasters, Holly Willoughby’s “Are you Ok?” speech becomes fair game as does Fujitsu, and even Sir Trevor McDonald makes a brief but electrifying appearance.  In its day, the show was groundbreaking for including genuine news stories that had appeared that week, and to see this ingenious and challenging concept unfolding flawlessly, live, in front of you makes you appreciate just how special this entire thing was, is, and always will be.  

Not only is it remarkable to reunite the original cast, but it is also a privilege to see such a wealth of talent all on stage together.  Jeff Rawle as George, Neil Pearson as Dave, Ingrid Lacey as Helen, Robert Duncan as Gus, Victoria Wicks as Sally Smedley, Susannah Doyle as Joy, and of course Stephen Tompkinson as Damien.  Completing the cast are two new characters, namely Julia Hills as Mairead and Kerena Jagpal as Rita.  This is an ensemble piece in its truest form, for all share the limelight in equal terms.  They are rarely off stage, and every cast member is generously treated to an ample amount of side-splitting jokes.  The comic timing is something to behold, whether it be the deliverance of script, a physical gag, or simply a look.  But what makes the comedy so effective is the undeniable knowledge each cast member has of their own character, enabling a tumultuous tornado of contrasting emotions to play out.  This ensures that the comedy is rooted in something real, whether it be heartache, jealousy, bitterness, shame, hope, or redemption.  Jeff Rawle has the most beautiful physical comedy as the clumsy and hopeless George.  His stumbling both vocally and physically never fade and he is everything you wanted him to be and more.

Neil Pearson’s dry, quick wit and Daveisms are timed to perfection, and he also offers us a new side to Dave which is endearing to watch and highlights his sheer talent.  Ingrid Lacey as Helen allows us to not only rejoice in the Helen we know and love but be wowed by the person life has carved her into, seamlessly blending these character transitions with ease.  Robert Duncan works at an impressive pace as a slightly stressed Gus.  He teases us with perfect moments of a smarmy Gus of old, then effortlessly flips into new ways to patronise, cajole and undermine George and company.  Victoria Wicks as Sally Smedley boldly and bravely takes on a lot of the more ‘close to the bone’ jokes and somehow manages to make Sally more Sally with each one.  It is brilliantly done and her strong characterisation allows this to work.  Susannah Doyle as Joy is excellent at revelling in the demise of her colleagues and cuts a strong figure on stage.  Her walk alone is genius, for she doesn’t walk, she struts.  Brilliant!  I have to confess, Stephen Tompkinson is one of my favourite actors and seeing him perform live was unbelievable.  He brought exceptional comedy, slapstick, and character, and delivered an impassioned speech at the end of the show that was thought provoking, emotive, enlightening, and yet he still managed to pull off a comedic twist.

Julia Hills as Mairead and Kerena Jagpal as Rita both slotted into this cast as if they have always been a part of the show.  Julia Hills portrayed a confident Mairead who hilariously gave the team the runaround, and allowed us to welcome this new character with ease, and Kerena Jagpal brought a fizz of fabulous eager energy to the stage through her character, which she contrasted perfectly against the jaded and cynical seasoned news team.  Derek Bond has directed this play with the utter most respect to the writers, the actors, and the audiences’ love affair with the original show.  He has also demanded that these characters do not become caricatures of themselves by ensuring we see hints of how 30 years of life after the end of a high flying career in broadcasting can shape and mould you in new and unexpected ways.     

Drop The Dead Donkey The Reawakening! is absolutely worth the 30 year wait!  It raises important questions, challenges the reliability of those we are supposed to be able to trust, and encourages us to look at ourselves and our society.  When does banter become a not so cleverly disguised excuse to simply insult someone?  And when does political correctness become so correct that humour is obsolete?  It’s a tap dance on a thread bare tightrope.  In a world where everyone has an opinion, and those opinions are pushed into territories that blur free speech with trolling, and leave cracks for plenty to abuse their public power for self interest, Drop The Dead Donkey The Reawakening! places it all under the microscope for everyone to see.  And it does so with the sharpest tool, the most instinctive and effective way it can.  It unites its audience as one against the ludicrousness through its uniquely witty and satirical brand of comedy, making us pay attention whilst entertaining us, and giving us permission to laugh at this crazy thing we call life.  I would go and watch this show again in a heartbeat and I am sure I am not the only one who left the theatre feeling exactly the same way.


Watch our "In Conversation with Andy Hamilton" video discussing the show.

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