Don't Take the Pith
Rating: ★★★★ ½
Venue: Drayton Arms Theatre, London
Cast: Helen Bang, Peter Rae, Abigail Dawn, David Furlong, Laura Morgan, Richard Rycroft, Ola Teniola, Billie Vee


HOT on the heels of last-year’s HIT DEBUT PLAY at the Drayton Arms, An Absolute Farce of a Murder Mystery (5* reviews & FINALIST Best Comedy London Pub Theatre Awards), Canonbie Productions presents This Season’s HOTTEST* Play.*(Yes, a pun).

Helen Bang and Peter Rae are back at the Drayton Arms Theatre. After An Absolute Farce of a Murder Mystery was a finalist for Best Comedy at the London Pub Theatre Awards, the married duo are reviving their characters in their second instalment: Don’t Take the Pith

I had absolutely no idea what Don’t Take the Pith! was about, but I was immediately intrigued by their content warnings: “potentially excessive cream costuming”, “historically awkward colonial views”, and “I think there’s a single ‘bollocks’” are just a few highlights. Needless to say I was sold. One thing I did see in the description was “mild sequel vibes”, and that made me a bit nervous. Would I not understand this show because I hadn’t seen the previous one? If you also had those concerns, I’ll put them to rest. Don’t Take The Pith! is its own fun, unique experience. 

If you’re going, I definitely recommend getting there early and grabbing a drink at the Drayton Arms Pub. One of the bartenders will ring a bell about ten minutes before the show begins, signaling that you’re allowed up to the theatre. It’s a small theatre, which I think works best for the show. I don’t know if every joke would land in a bigger space because of the intimacy the show requires. The set itself was eclectic, a bunch of knick-knacks and a ripped chaise lounge right in centre. Helen Bang, the set designer, costume designer, and director (and not to mention stars in the show!) gives a sense of the time period, while also aiding in breaking the fourth wall. 

The show begins with Maud the servant immediately breaking the fourth wall by staring directly at the audience. Then the fifth wall breaks, then the sixth, and then there was simply no barrier between the audience and actors. The moment Lord Peter de Meur (Rycroft) called the show an “Agatha Christie rip-off”, I knew that they weren’t going to be taking themselves seriously. The characters are aware of the fact that they are characters in a play, and the humour that that causes is something you just have to see for yourself. 

Every actor was fantastic, and their comedic timing was superb. Helen Bang and Peter Rae are the obvious leads of the show, and they captivated my attention every time they were on stage. Lord Sebastian Hardcastle (Rae), a serious detective, was the perfect foil for Lady Susan Bloom (Bang) the quirky psychic. Abigail Dawn (Maud Pauper) had me howling with laughter with every word she said. (once I could translate what she was saying…if you know, you know). This was a great ensemble show where every actor had their moment to shine. 

A line from the show that I think is important to remember is “this is a comedy, there is no plot”. It perfectly summarises this show. Yes, there’s a plot and interesting characters whose storylines you want to follow. But the point of this show is to make sure the audience has a laugh. It’s a satire of mysteries, of British history, and of comedy itself. 

I was hooked the entire show. I’m not sure I ever stopped laughing. If you fancy a drink and a laugh, definitely see Don’t Take the Pith! at Drayton Arms Theatre. Hurry, the show ends 1 June! 

You can book tickets to see Don't Take the Pith!, at the Drayton Arms Theatre, here.

Review by Becca

**photo credit: Wala Arts**

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