What better way to spend your Wednesday night than watch a murder mystery that has the premise of your favourite drag queens and kings slaying… oh no wait, sorry, I meant being slain. ‘Death Drop’ is a murder mystery drag extravaganza set in the 90s, where a bunch of privileged influencers, a politician and three mental caterers gather for the celebration of Charles and Dianas 10th wedding anniversary.
Willam’s camp and savage portrayal of Shazza is a joy to watch as she radiates humour and sheer stage presence as the one hit wonder. Ra’jah O’Hara is side-splittingly funny and stunning as Summer Raines, her energy alone drags the audience (excuse the pun) right into her performance. Arguably, she is not given nearly enough stage time, none the less this is a brilliant appearance from this seasoned queen.
Vinegar Strokes delivers grandeur, splendour and outrageous filth as Lady von Fistenburg. The humour from this role mainly comes from Vinegar’s silly physical comedy, however, as much as there are moments where the full audience is floored with the farcical antics on stage, there are moments where you want more of Vinegar’s improvisation. Despite wanting more, this is a superb performance from Vinegar Strokes.
Karen From Finance as Morgan Pierce gives us a hilarious performance that is feathered with many a satirical reference. The occasional flash of her camera truly tickled the audience, however at points, it was clear she was strapped to the script and refused to embrace any off-piste improvisation, which did slightly disconnect the audience from her performance.
Holly Stars is hysterically funny as The Bottomley Sisters and the chaos that ensued with these sisters was performed perfectly. Holly does well to translate her writing to stage, but with that there are clearly moments where she has read the audience and improvised or added on to up the hilarity. This is a superb performance from this very talented queen.
Richard Energy as Rich Whiteman gives perhaps one of the best physical comedic performances that audiences have seen in a long time. They have thrown themselves into this portrayal physically as well as vocally and they simply radiate comedy as the outrageous Tory MP. Georgia Frost is outrageously funny as the crude sex pest, Phil Maker. Georgia delivers the one-liners perfectly, also amplifying their delivery with some fantastic physical comedy. This is a superb performance that just embraces the comedy that this production suggests.
This production has such a good premise in terms of a Drag Queen and King murder mystery, all the characters as an idea are solid, however in terms of execution, there are definite issues. This mainly stems from Holly Stars’ script, as much as there is some golden comedy in there and the set-up is superb, the dialogue itself falls flat multiple times. This is an adult comedy show and even though there is adult humour, the script doesn’t have a balance. At points, the dialogue and stage direction seems to hold back from being too outrageous, but then at the opposite end of the scale, it sometimes goes too far and fails to land. There are so many set-ups for extremely funny dialogue, that is never acted upon. With this, the plot can become complex and chaotic at points. The premise of this being a Charles and Diana anniversary celebration is a big part of what falls flat in this production, especially a certain distasteful cameo. This isn’t supposed to be a high brow affair, but with a revised (and cut down) script, this production could be a massive success. One aspect which would lift the production is allowing the performers to come off script more, let them act within that moment, having them strapped to the script seems forced. Especially since they talk to the audience at points, therefore there is no fourth wall, we know it’s a play, the production could afford to nod more towards that.
Jesse Jones’ direction is fast-paced, contemporary, hilarious and embraces utterly farcical events. Jesse’s vision does well to amplify and embrace the continuous shift in tone throughout the performance. Perhaps at some points gags are left to linger too long, which just makes the punchline or point of the joke pointless. Despite this, it’s great to see a director really lean into satire with a pretty lighthearted and camp approach. Jesse’s direction is amplified with Justin Williams’ stunning set design, Isobel Pellow’s flawless costume design and Jack Weir’s electrifying lighting design.
Also, Flo & Joan’s original songs for this production are all camp bops that hint towards iconic hits from the last thirty years.
Overall, ‘Death Drop’ is a fun romp that features a fantastic cast and creative team, yet it falls flat in terms of taking style over substance. If you are a fan of drag kings and queens this is definitely your cup of tea and is guaranteed to have you leaving the theatre beaming.
Currently playing Edinburgh King’s Theatre. Get your tickets below: