Drop the Dead Donkey- the Reawakening, Bath Theatre Royal and touring

A PACKED audience at Bath Theatre Royal welcomed the appearances of their old friends from GlobeLink with cheers and applause as each arrived on the stage – which must have delighted the writers, who were in the theatre for the show.

Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin, who wrote all six series of the television comedy from 1990 to 1998, jumped at the chance to re-unite the remaining cast members and update the story to the days of algorithmic domination and a parliament that hardly needs re-writing for a comedy show. Just like in the original series, updating is a daily process, so Tuesday’s Bath audience enjoyed references to items on Tuesday’s news.

It all starts in a shiny office, with Truth News engraved on the glass walls, and a sophisticated coffee machine taking the place of a person. George Dent (Jeff Rawle) is first in, excited at having been offered a job on this new station, soon followed by Neil Pearson’s Dave (reformed gambler, drunk and womaniser, he says). In comes Helen (Ingrid Lacey), for whom, like all the others, the eye-watering wages are a very real magnet. Then there is Damien (Stephen Tompkinson), now wheelchair bound. When Gus (Robert Duncan) arrives, the old gang smells a rat, even though each has been recruited (by telephone) by people with strong accents of very different countries. It wouldn’t be the same without the endlessly aggressive Joy (Susannah Doyle) or the ultra-right Sally Smedley, lasciviously relished by Victoria Wicks.

They are joined by token non-white weather (don’t say girl) presenter Rita (Kerena Jagpal), having fun with the old team, but sticking to her guns, and Julia Hills as Mairead as a star investigative reporter.

This new play is much, much more than a TV series reunion. It’s full of hilariously funny dialogue as ever-more crowd-pleasing ideas are tried out. The satire is keen and almost unbelievable – almost, because, unbelievably, it IS happening, right now. Damien’s denouement speech has a rallying poignancy, to anyone who mourns the passing of serious journalism that is not linked to sponsors, advertisers and murkily illusory funders and founders.

Do snap up the chance to see this, whether you are a confirmed fan of the TV series, or, like me, someone who now can’t wait to catch up on a comedy channel, and can’t understand why I didn’t watch them first time round.

And if you have already seen this Reawakening tour, go again. It will be different every night, and hats off to the cast for making it so very funny and very topical.


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