I have decided my drag name will be Agatha Crustie and my look can alternate between Margaret Rutherford and Joan Hickson’s Miss Marple. I can then join the cast of the whacky and wonderful Death Drop currently playing at the New Theatre, Cardiff.
Loosely based on “And Then There Were None” (the safe name for the story that is too un-PC to use nowadays), the plot is a group invited to a dinner in an old house where something happened many years ago that is on Tuck Island that is cut off from the mainland. None of the guests have met the mysterious host whose name, Lady von Fistenburg, is familiar to people with a certain interest in bodily investigations (enough said).
The event is to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the blissfully happy marriage of Charles and Diana and there is plenty of 80s-early 90s references which I am not sure some of the younger audience members would get – but, hey it is all fun anyway.
In case you don’t know, the characters are all in drag, (both male to female and female to male) and some of the players are well-know to fans of Ru-Paul’s Drag Race. Apparently the female to male are drag king, I am informed. I have no idea what the jargon is for non gender specific people.
This they all have professional names as ridiculous (if not more so) than the characters in the comedy. Vinegar Stokes places Lady von Fistenburg, Karen From Finance plays newspaper hack Morgan Pierce (think about it), and I guess that Americans Willam as failing pop singer Shazza and Ra’Jah O’Hara as weather girl Summer Raines (and a hoot of a detective) are the most famous people as they get a full page in the programme. Georgia Frost plays a sleezy producer Phil Maker (slut the words) and Richard Energy plays Rich Whiteman, a Tory MP for Uxbridge, yes, Boris’ constituency. You can also expect outrageous costumes and gravity defying shoes.
My companion commented how Holly Stars who plays the three Bottomley Sisters (Blue, Brie and Spread whose mother liked cheese) is pivotal to the whole zany narrative, not realising Holly was the play’s writer.
There is good character acting throughout as you would expect from performers who are used to creating personas and also projecting to audiences, experts in comic timing and, what makes them special, usually strong live singers rather than lip-synching. They all get their chance to shine with cameo sections as well as the vital chemistry of interacting with one another and occasionally the audience.
Like panto, there is much reliance on puns, tongue twisters sections – perfectly executed – and unlike panto the humour is very adult, particularly a simulated sex sequence and a little of the language.
The only negative criticism would be that the show would benefit from more musical numbers even if the plot was simplified further to make space.
Ultimately, this is a fun, bright and plain daft show that will raise your spirits. It is also great to be back at Cardiff’s glorious New Theatre which is now under new ownership and this was the curtain-raiser to this latest act for the historic venue.
New Theatre Until Saturday, October 23.
Images Matt Crockett