REVIEW: Drop The Dead Donkey: The Reawakening at The Lyceum, Sheffield

SHARP AND RELEVANT: Drop The Dead DonkeySHARP AND RELEVANT: Drop The Dead Donkey
SHARP AND RELEVANT: Drop The Dead Donkey
THIRTY years on from the TV series and brought to the stage for the first time, Drop The Dead Donkey is as fresh and relevant as it was back in the days when the news was consumed at 10pm or via a paper.

It was ahead of its time and in an era of fake news, clickbait, celebrity gossip and royal tittle-tattle, there’s a chance that devious chief exec Gus Hedges’ scheme to bring the unwitting old GlobeLink team back under his new Truth News venture might just work.

The first Drop The Dead Donkey series hit the screen in 1990 – since then we’ve had The Office, The IT Crowd and Mad Men - and some of the ‘characters’ of 1990 wouldn’t survive a first hauling over the HR coals, but...

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Written by the same award-winning team of Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin, this at times had me in stitches and at others barely able to watch as I recognised the cringeworthy scenarios playing out in today’s world of AI, photoshop and general manipulation (not in this office, obviously!)..

What is unusual is, rather than simply bringing the show to the theatre with an all-new cast, the originals are largely here - David Swift (Henry Davenport) and Haydn Gwynne (Alex Pates) have passed away – and make the transfer from screen to stage (and back again, I suppose) seamlessly.

Susannah Doyle is brilliant as scary HR head Joy Merryweather, Robert Duncan entirely believable as slimy exec Gus Hedges, Neil Pearson fantastic as (former) gambling, drinking womaniser Dave, and Jeff Rawle convincing as a 30 years older and still out of his depth station editor George. Stephen Tompkinson tellingly manages to make without scruples star reporter Damien Day believable and almost likeable, Victoria Wicks is great as the somewhat messed up, ambitious, full of herself news anchor Sally Smedley, with Ingrid Lacey as Helen, the assistant editor who holds it all together, and Kerena Jagpal as Rita the young “weathergirl” the not quite willing victims of non-PC office “banter”. And what is manic Mairead (Julia Hills) up to?

The lines are as razor sharp – “some Tory fruitcakes are calling for a citizen army. Half the conscripts will be working from home” – as they ever were. We find out that George caught Covid in Wuhan and there’s talk of a lesbian friendly diverse newsroom “full of gender fluids”. Trevor McDonald makes a guest appearance – in a way – and sex offender is allowed to stay in the country “because he’s the king’s brother”. Boundaries? Nah...

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The stage set is brilliant, the way too modern coffee machine causing chaos and a screen displaying tweets of “outraged” viewers hilarious.

It doesn’t matter what those tweets say because it’s all about viewing figures you see – “our viewers don’t believe the news is true anymore so it might be better they believe something that isn’t true.” A message for our times.

At the Lyceum until Saturday. Tickets can be booked at

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