'Death Drop' is playful and delightfully silly, oozing with natural charisma
While not marketed directly as a Christmas show, there is more than a touch of pantomime to Death Drop. Written by Holly Stars, the self-described “Dragatha Christie Murder Mystery” is a glitzy, if somewhat straggly show.
The premise is fairly simple — set in 1991, against a stage design which can only be described as what might happen if the set of The Mousetrap was put in a blender with The Pink Panther, a group of guests, ranging from the washed up 80s popstar Shazza (Courtney Act), the stuffy Conservative MP Rich Whiteman (LoUis CYfer), and the American weathergirl Summer Raines (Monet X Change) are summoned to the lonely and deserted Tuck Island for a soiree celebrating the 10th anniversary of Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s wedding. Things, inevitably, start to go downhill — scandalous secrets are revealed, and guests are poisoned, decapitated, choked, and shot. But although Death Drop takes its cues from classic murder mysteries, it isn’t ever quite able to stick its landings.
Part of the problem is Death Drop’s pacing — running at a hefty 2 hours and 20 minutes, it has a 60 minute first half which takes a good while to get the wheels on the plot properly spinning, and the twists and turns are backloaded onto an 80 minute second half which quickly begins to drag — no pun intended. Stars’ plot is playful and can be delightfully silly at times (a tongue-twisting segment being a standout), but the jokes simply aren’t strong enough to sustain such a winding, baggy narrative. There’s a real looseness too to the production which can make it feel occasionally like each drag king and queen has been parachuted in from a different show, rather than working as a cohesive whole. Courtney Act and Holly Stars (who also performs) in particular have boundless wells of presence and charm, but it’s not enough to buoy up the production’s weaknesses — and in the end, it’s LoUis CYfer who steals the show as Rich Whiteman, bumbling around the stage with a wonderful, Python-esque physicality.
Death Drop is a pleasant enough evening — it rolls along fairly easily, coasting off the natural charisma of its performers — but it rarely hits the heights needed for it to feel like proper escapism. There’s a much sharper, tighter show in here somewhere — it’s just tripping itself up on the hem of its glittery gown.
Death Drop tickets are on sale now.
Photo credit: Cast of Death Drop (Photo by Matt Crockett)