Words: Darren Scott; Picture: By Matt Crockett
Not everyone loves clubbing – remember clubs? – or noisy bar experiences, so it’s a joy to see drag talent live in a different environment. Once again, that’s thanks to the people from drag production company Tuck Shop, this time bringing a new play to London’s glittering West End. Most of that glitter was actually on the Garrick’s stage and in the audience for the press night of Death Drop.
Described as ‘a Dragatha Christie murder-mystery’, the show is written by Holly Stars, from an idea by Christopher D Clegg (who’s behind Tuck Shop) and sees a selection of drag queens/kings as the cast.
Guests are invited to a celebratory dinner for the tenth anniversary of Charles and Diana’s wedding – hosted by Lady Von Fistenburg (Vinegar Strokes) in Shante Manor on Tuck Island, and catered by the Bottomely triplets, Blue, Brie and Spread (Holly Stars). But no-one knows who Lady Von Fistenburg is, or why they’ve been invited – they’re all just hoping to get the attention of Princess Di (naturally no-one gives a second mention to Charles).
Anna Phylactic is Morgan Pierce, editor of World of the News, Kemah Bob is producer Phil Maker, Monét X Change is weather girl Summer Raines (we’re loving the Scream nod there), LoUis CYfer is Tory MP Rich Whiteman and Courtney Act is Shazza, an Australian singer who doesn’t like to be compared to Kylie…
Each queen turns up to Shante Manor like a guest to Noel’s House Party, eliciting whoops and cheers from the audience. With brief introductions out of the way – framed by Queen’s ‘The Show Must Go On’ re-written to explain the time period, becoming ‘It’s 91’ – one of the guests dies. No spoilers here, of course, but it turns out that “someone’s sat on a secret.”
LoUis CYfer, Kemah Bob, Courtney Act, Vinegar Strokes, Holly Stars, Anna Phylactic, Monét X Change in Death Drop (Picture: Matt Crockett)
With the phone line down and the bridge to the mainland blocked by a fallen tree, the party-goers are stuck with the killer for the night and it turns out that no-one’s safe. But who is it and what’s their motive? Who cares when it’s this much fun!
Is it panto? Is it farce? Does it matter? It’s the best show you’ll see in the West End to feature a cheese and pineapple hedgehog and minced beef crispy pancakes.
It has costume changes. It has musical numbers. It has lightning, thunderclaps and theatrical smoke – and goodness, it’s great to smell theatrical smoke again.
It’s over the top and hammy – of course – and the audience loves it. The cast look like they’re having a blast too – Holly Stars, in particular, is an absolute joy. There’s physical humour, there’s literal toilet humour and some very clever era-based jokes and utter childish wordplay that had this particular reviewer in tears of laughter. The second act gets surreal. It’s ridiculous but brilliant. In fact, it’s not just ridiculous, it’s absolutely ridiculous. Go with it.
From the pre-show PWL tunes to the ‘Neutron Dance’ curtain call, Death Drop certainly slays.