Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
Sarah Crown
Theatre Correspondent
12:30 PM 7th February 2024

Drop The Dead Donkey: The Reawakening

Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan
Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan
Thirty years since the launch of the unprecedented, comedy smash-hit Channel 4 TV series, the Globelink News team are back for the first time bursting onto the stage with their original and razor-sharp wit, classic British humour and of course, their unique and topical comments on the news items of the day.

Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan
Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan
The original cast members of Stephen Tompkinson (Damien), Neil Pearson (Dave), Susannah Doyle (Joy), Robert Duncan (Gus), Ingrid Lacey (Helen) replacing Haydn Gwynne who died last year, Jeff Rawle (George), and Victoria Wicks (Sally Smedley) have reunited and are joined by Julia Mills (Mairead) and Kerena Jagpal (Rita, the weather girl) to present this deliciously funny evening of entertainment. The only missing member of the original team is the cantankerous anchorman Henry Davenport played by David Swift, who sadly died in 2016.

Written by Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin and directed by Derek Bond, the play is enormously entertaining and as each well-loved and remembered character made their initial appearance on stage there was a round of applause from the audience.

Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan
Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan
Each blemished character has their own story to tell and each is depicted as either an office or a media stereotype caricature, attempting to navigate their way through the chaos of fake news, social media and the cut throat world of journalism, all assisted by the emerging A1 technology. In this particular newsroom nothing can be broadcast unless the item is indicated to increase audience numbers by the ever present and oft referred to algorithm. Hence the incongruous news item on pangolins much to the consternation of all!

Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan
Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan
The human characters are joined by ‘Dimples’, the teddy bear, faithfully placed at the scene of many disasters covered by the supposedly wheelchair bound but still keen to rove reporter Damien.

The play is completely up to date with many references to topical news items of our day, all delivered in a humorous and deadpan manner. The computer system used has been supplied by Fujitsu, should Baroness Mone’s fee be paid into her trust fund, the difficulties of quickly assembling a peoples army when so many work from home, a passing reference to Paula Vennells and the brief tenure of Liz Truss as Prime Minister. No topic appears off limits.

The play is enormously entertaining, but on a more serious note the piece highlights how easy it is to distort the truth, depending on each individual’s perspective. There will ever only be one truth however many versions of it we may read, listen or see.

After all, this particular newsroom operates under the banner of ‘Truth News’ and I loved it!

Sheffield Lyceum Theatre Until 10th February
Tour: Leeds Grand April 9-13, 2024