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REVIEW: Don't Make Tea (Birds of Paradise Theatre Company, UK Tour, Glasgow 2024)

11 April 2024

Tron Theatre, Glasgow

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


Don't Make Tea, Birds of Paradise Theatre Company. Photo: Andy Catlin

It's 2030 and the UK benefits system has undergone a transformation. Chris is going blind, she needs crutches to move around and is in constant pain. When Ralph visits her home to complete a disability benefits assessment, will Chris be able to convince him that she is not fit for work?


But then, if you are capable of killing and disposing of a body, can you really call yourself disabled?


And so sets the scene for Birds of Paradise Theatre Company's dark comedy Don't Make Tea.


The welfare state may seem an unusual topic for a play on paper, but in reality it's a perfectly horrific regime primed for ridicule and parody. A source of great distress and anxiety for many, Don't Make Tea makes it clear from the start that when given no other choice but to claim benefits, the stakes are always high. Chris literally will not survive without government support, and yet the system, here represented by Ralph, seem to be oblivious and unsympathetic to her predicament. What choice does she have really?


Don't Make Tea by Birds of Paradise Theatre Company at Glasgow Tron Theatre 2024. Photo: Lisa in the Theatre

It's a fascinating concept wrapped into a glorious play that transcends boundaries and should make everyone who sees it question what "accessible theatre" really means. With razor-sharp dialogue and hilarious black comedy, Don't Make Tea is one of the funniest pieces of theatre I have ever seen. Performed to perfection by an exceptional cast, the deadpan humour and impossible, seat-squirming situations just keep coming and coming.


The quality of the writing, the set, lighting and performances are top tier. Yes this play is captioned and signed at every performance - it's probably the most accessible stage work you can hope for - but such is the genius of BOP, Writer Rob Drummond and Director Robert Softley Gale, that the accessible elements are completely integrated into the narrative. They are not mere afterthoughts or troublesome add-ons: They are essential parts of the story, and even the butt of the joke at times. It's genius. Future productions could learn so much from watching BOP's Don't Make Tea. This is how you do it.


Don't Make Tea by Birds of Paradise Theatre Company play script. Photo: Lisa in the Theatre

I loved this so much that I bought the play script on my way out the door. Don't Make Tea is a remarkable piece of theatre. Don't miss it!


⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


Writer Rob Drummond comments "This is a piece I have been thinking about writing for a long time - since becoming aware of the inherent, often Kafkaesque, drama involved in undertaking a disability assessment in this country. The play I had in mind, however, has been greatly enhanced by the provocations and challenges gifted to me by BOP and their associates. I’m proud of what we’ve come up with - a dark comedy that doesn’t claim to have all the answers but hopefully asks a lot of the right questions, in a way that aims to heal political divides rather than exacerbate them."


Artistic Director Robert Softley Gale says "We're thrilled to be bringing back this hit production showcasing our dynamic approach to creatively embedded access and placing the stories of disabled people centre stage across the UK. This show feels frighteningly relevant to our lives right now."


📸 production photos: Andy Catlin


Access: ALL performances of Don't Make Tea at the Tron Theatre are captioned and have creatively embedded BSL interpretation, with audio description integrated into the script.


⚠️ Birds of Paradise Theatre Company are hosting an online conversation about Disability benefits in the UK on 9th May.

For more information and to book visit: https://www.boptheatre.co.uk/dont-make-tea/#Online


Don't Make Tea by Birds of Paradise Theatre Company

 

Don't Make Tea Cast


Chris Gillian Dean

Ralph Neil John Gibson

Frances Emery Hunter

Jude Nicola Chegwin


Creatives


Writer Rob Drummond

Director Robert Softley Gale

Designer Kenneth Macleod

Lighting Designer Grant Anderson

AV Designer Jamie MacDonald

Composer Scott Twynholm

Creative Producer Mairi Taylor

Producer Michelle Rolfe


Don't Make Tea is a riveting new dark comedy from Rob Drummond (Bulletcatch, The Majority) and was first presented by Scotland’s pre-eminent disability-led theatre company at Traverse Theatre, 4th – 10th October 2022.


 

Don't Make Tea Listings


2024

21st – 22nd March Traverse Theatre, 10 Cambridge Street, Edinburgh EH1 2ED

26th March – 6th April Soho Theatre, 21 Dean Street, London W1D 3NE

9th April The Gaiety Theatre, Carrick Street, Ayr KA7 1NU

11th – 13th April Tron Theatre, 63 Trongate, Glasgow G1 5HB

16th April Cumbernauld Theatre at Lanternhouse, Cumbernauld G67 2UF

19th April Ffwrnes Theatre, Ffwrnes, Park Street, Llanelli SA15 3YE



🌟 Also playing in Glasgow this week: 🌟


The Drifters Girl is at The King's Theatre until Sat 13th April 2024.

🎟️ Tickets here: www.atgtickets.com



The Kite Runner is at the Theatre Royal until Sat 13th April 2024.

🎟️ Tickets here: www.atgtickets.com



 

About Birds of Paradise Theatre Company


Birds of Paradise Theatre Company is Scotland’s leading touring theatre company employing disabled and non-disabled actors.


Established in 1993, BOP became disability led in 2012 and now focuses on delivering work across BOP Theatre, BOP Development and BOP Strategy strands to have the widest impact locally and internationally.


As BOP enters its 30th anniversary year, the company’s work continues to impact on the diversity of the wider cultural landscape, remaining world-renowned for integrating access into all its productions, and in developing work that addresses disability with honestly, integrity, and humour.


 

REVIEW: Don't Make Tea (UK Tour) by Birds of Paradise Theatre Company at the Tron Theatre, Glasgow, April 2024.


🎟️ Disclosure: I was invited to review this show and received a complimentary ticket in exchange for my time and for writing this review. Neither the venue nor show has a say in what I write. I'm completely independent and review invites do not have any impact on my analysis or star ratings.



📸 Find Lisa in the Theatre on Instagram for more photos and videos.


Lisa in the theatre. Scottish theatre reviewer. UK theatre blog. Glasgow Theatre. Edinburgh Theatre. Scotland theatre.

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