Long-term followers of our blog will know that one of the best parties we have ever been to was a murder mystery event hosted in a local church hall. I was given the role of a double-crossing German agent who was of the run from the authorities and so had to convince the captain not to return to wherever we can from to avoid being arrested! Everyone was encouraged to dress up and we all had a collection of moments, actions and tasks we had to do throughout the night leading to a vote as to who we thought the murderer was. There is something different about being immersed into a crime drama (instead of simply watching on one tv) that amplifies every emotion and Death Drop manages to play with this idea flawlessly! There are constant fourth wall breaks throughout with characters hilariously acknowledging the audience including at one point simply stating “can you repeat all that backstory so the audience can remember it?” Even though the audience are watching a production, the creative game have crafted the script in order to bring viewers into the story with these fourth wall breaks scattered throughout the show! As well as being a fan of murder mystery parties, we are all massive fans of all things drag with us writing episodic reviews of drag race every week (available at http://www.nerdly.com) This is why when it was announced that a drag-tastic, murder mystery play staring drag race alumni would be landing in Cardiff we could not have been more excited! Unlike our event in a local church, Death Drop has casted a diverse group of performers with an AFAB queen, a drag king, a queen with Asian heritage and a controversial American queen!
The role of Father Alfie Romeo is played by none other than the drag king sensation LoUis CYfer who is a priest sent to investigate the mysterious goings on in the convent of St Babs. Despite being an obvious representation of the male-centric clergy, this character functions as an almost critique of many aspects of modern and organised religion with references to hypocrisy being fundamental to the story. At one point this priest goes on a rant about how the best way to lift people up in the church is by making them feel worse about themselves and the most effective way to build a community is by segregating marginalised communities such as homosexuals, single-parent families and the lower classes. The blurred lines between queer individuals and the church is an obvious acknowledgement of the controversial viewpoints of the latter towards the former but I do have to say we are very excited to attend our second ever dragged to church event at St Andrew’s (with last year’s review available at https://rhysreviews.com/2021/12/08/dragged-2-church-event-review/) where a hoard of queens take over the church for a unique and extremely camp Christmas celebration! As one of the lead characters who spend the most time of stage, Father Alfie Romeo takes part in many of the more chaotic and out-there scenes including attempted murder, being attacked by ghosts, being taunted by a nightmare demon and even arguing with his own inner voice! Being able to portray this mind-blowing array of eccentric scenes is a testament to the acting abilities of Louie with every acting choice making sense within the scene. He is also able to portray the journey for a hard-hitting officials who wanted to close St babs to a massive fan of the so-called nuns perfectly which again shows a spectrum of emotions captured wonderfully!
If you have been following our Canada’s drag race vs the world review series (with the latest available at http://www.nerdly.co.uk/2022/11/29/drag-race-canada-vs-the-world-2×02-review/?fbclid=IwAR0mG5sVeruqaGjejHiBsNL4q7S1Atq5dUFpempl9T-pU4vLoR_KMzot3vM) you will know that we are massive fans of Victoria Scone who is an iconic AFAB (assigned female at birth) queen from my hometown Cardiff! Victoria takes on the role of the mother superior, Sister Mary Kimberly Woodburn (which is a clear nod to her recent performance in the snatch game!) As the head nun, Victoria helps to carefully navigate Alfie Romeo through the convent and deliveries many of the more comical moments in the show! It is clear that this role had to be written specifically with Victoria in mind as there are many nods to her including being a lesbian and her knee injury during drag race UK season three both of which were brilliantly acknowledged throughout the course of the show. My favourite moment for this character was when she appeared towards the end of the play as a god-like/Ru Paul catchphrase reciting / Gandalf-inspired character who helped to overcome the forces of evil. After a previous nod to the lord of the rings, it was fab to see the iconic “you shall not pass!” catchphrase brought back as Victoria done a totally white outfit akin to Gandalf the white’s return in helms deep!
These two drag performers were joined by a fan favourite of drag race UK season three River Medway who played the role of sister Mary Maria Julie Andrews. This character was obviously inspired by the character of Maria in sound of music with constant nods to the nazis, looking after a hoard of children and even breaking out into a rendition of “these are a few of the things I quite like” which is an obvious parody to the similar song form the sound of music! Due to the nun inclusion and being left at the convent at a very young age, there was also a certain air of Sister Mary Robert from sister act who is a constantly confused character. At various points, River begins to burst into song only to be interrupted by a fellow character which became a running gag as the show progress. I was not expecting River to be such a talented physical theatre comedian as her sequence of running on an imagery escalator and the sequence in which she was stabbed were both examples of brilliant and hilarious physicalisation. From a technical standpoint, the moment where she begins to squirt blood over an attacker was so cleverly planned to appear hyper rehearsed was not only very funny to watch but also made sense with the narrative itself!
This cast is completed by the wonderful Cheryl Hole and William who play sister Mary Berry and Sis Titus respectively! During her original appearance of drag race UK season one there was an iconic moment during the girl group challenge where Baga Chips maintains a dead-pan face and says “and Cheryl does a death drop” which ready viral acclaim as Cheryl has made no effort to hide her signature dance move back then or even now! During the latter moments of the show, Cheryl pulls out this thunderous dance move that is not only stunning to look at but also made sense within the story itself! At one point Cheryl switches role to play an almost sleep paralysis demon who gets into the mind of the newly arrived Alfie Romeo with the sequence this haunting appears being particularly frightening even to a more mature audience! This role was a clear homage to the Ring with a scary movie twist as they begin to pleasure themselves with a cross that was intended to scare them off. William also takes on a brilliant demon transformation in the latter parts of the play which was fantastic! William takes on the role of a jealous nun who was beaten to the position of mother superior by Sister Mary Kimberly Woodburn in a recent vote. She is the much more crude section of the nun trio and delivers many of the more sexual comments in the show.
While I am not going to reveal the shocking twist in this story, I think that it was beautifully and logically embedded into the story to not only make sense but also shock the audience. Throughout the show, the performers move their own props and set which was actually acknowledged on stage but also made sense when you know the ending of the show. Additionally, the second half of Death Drop had an almost air of the show that goes wrong about it with performers have to re-start scenes because set was not in the right location or pretending to walk downstairs despite no steps being present. This again helped to deliver numerous comedic moments but also fitted the narrative of the show was was fantastic to see!
Overall, ‘Death Drop 2: back in the habit’ is clearly a play intended for a more mature audience as it contains strong language, sexual references and depictions of violence throughout. This tour is headlined by three iconic queens from drag race while still reminding everyone that there is so much more to the art form of drag than simply drag race through the inclusion of a drag king! The show itself is wonderfully camp, hilariously fun and yet at times terribly frightening that will take you on a total rollercoaster of emotions! I would rate this production 4 out of 5 stars!