Review by Daz Gale
When Death Drop first reared its head in 2020, I’m not sure anybody was prepared for how successful it would be. Following three West End runs and a UK tour, it was clear there was an appetite for this madcap Drag adventure- so it should come as no surprise that it has now spawned a sequel which returns to the Death Drop universe. With sequels usually failing to match the heights of the original (Love Never Dies anyone?), was this one show that was better left dead?
Death Drop: Back In The Habit is set in the convent of St Babs where unnatural happenings begin happening. What unfolds is a weird and wacky adventure that pays homage to all your favourite horror movies from IT to Scream to… erm… The Sound Of Music. If you’re searching for much of a plot, you’ll be looking for a long time. Instead, what this is is a series of sketches loosely held together by a paper-thin story. While that may not sound the most enthralling thing in the world, sometimes all you want is a carefree bit of fluff. Thankfully, in that respect, this show delivers.
Drag royalty have assembled for this production with Cheryl Hole, River Medway and Victoria Scone from RuPaul’s Drag Race UK are joined by RuPaul’s Drag Race legend Willam (who thankfully doesn’t get kicked out halfway through). Add in Drag King LoUis CYfer and a full drag supporting cast and you are left with a fun loving group of Drag artistes. They may not be sweeping next years Olivier awards for their acting but what they can effortlessly do is win over an audience immediately and make sure they are having as much fun as possible.
Highlights among the hilarious cast are River Medway’s Sister Mary Julie Andrews which is as brilliantly bonkers as you would hope. Attempting to make a musical number out of any situation, if you fell in love with River on Drag Race, that love will only grow with her performance here. Cheryl Hole gets some of the best sight gags of the show including the obligatory Death Drop, while LoUis CYfer is excellently over the top as Father Alfie Romeo.
Willam is a highlight in a deliberately withdrawn performance where less really is more – but this all comes together for a welcome return of a fan favourite moment from the first Death Drop. The affair is held together by Victoria Scone as Mother Superior who oozes stage presence… even in the moments where she can’t help laughing herself. With a cast having that much of a good time on stage, it’s hard not to buy into that.
Death Drop: Back In The Habit is a show where the fourth wall is completely murdered, with the audience being referenced to repeatedly. The cast themselves refer to the show as “Very cheap theatre” but their use of various props to desperately create dramatic effect adds to the humour of the jokes. With direction from Jesse Jones, there are still great elements to this production with a particularly good use of lighting from Rory Beaton and sound from Beth Duke.
Written by Rob Evans, Death Drop: Back In The Habit has no shortage of jokes with euphemisms and innuendo filling every hole in the plot. Some truly hilarious one liners and visual gags ensure a smile is never far from your face. The whole thing is also much slicker than the first Death Drop. Where several jokes in that one seemed to fall flat, the hit rate is much stronger this time around. Just don’t expect any emotional depth and you’ll be fine.
One of the greatest things about Death Drop is the way it puts Drag Kings and Queens on a West End stage. Whereas other shows may have non Drag performers playing Drag roles, this keeps it firmly in the family. This is thanks to Christopher D Clegg whose production company TuckShop has brought Drag to the main stage and we really do love to see it.
Death Drop: Back In The Habit truly breaks the mould by improving on its predecessor. Yes, the whole thing might be a bit basic but that really is part of its charm. While it centres itself in the horror universe, this is anything but a horror show. In fact, when it comes to fun, Death Drop Back In The Habit is second to nun. If the Death Drop universe is going to continue to improve as it grows, shantay it can stay.
Death Drop: Back In The Habit plays at the Garrick Theatre until November 19th. It then embarks on a UK tour until Match 2023. Full dates and tickets from https://deathdropplay.com/
Photos by Matt Crockett