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Soho Theatre

DON’T. MAKE. TEA. at the Soho Theatre


“a bold, razor-sharp comedy about what it really means to test someone”

Don’t. Make. Tea. is a dystopian satirical comedy set in 2037 directed by Robert Softley Gale and written by Rob Drummond. We meet Christine Dunlop (Gillian Dean) an ex-copper with OPMD who is losing her eyesight and mobility. As per the policy of “Accessible Britain”, she is being assessed on her disability benefits. Chris now finds herself the subject of interrogation in a Kafkaesque appointment with the sweet but sickly assessor Ralph (Neil John Gibson). The first part of the play focuses on establishing the premise of the assessment and takes it time exploring Chris’ life and her situation. Humour is squeezed out of the interview as she tries to navigate the questionnaire and lie detector with the sad realities of the present dominating the conversation. She is forced to perform the most horrible use of ‘heads, shoulders, knees and toes’ to date before a hugely climactic twist closes the first act.

The show makes an impressive use of tech and accessibility devices. It is audio-described by Able (Richard Conlon), a cross between ‘Siri’ and ‘Hal 9000’ who aids Chris but also spies on her. He delivers diegetic commentary throughout with wit and charm “Ralph looks like he’s had a hard life”. On the screen (provided by Chris’ accessibility benefits) is a sign language interpreter who translates the characters’ speech. The second act sees Chris experience hallucinations. Able, now embodied as her doting neighbour, and the BSL interpreter resembling Chris’ mother Francis (Emery Hunter), assist Chris in her predicament. We later meet Ralph’s supervisor and spouse, Jude (Nicola Chegwin), an oppositional and flawed woman who uses a wheelchair and is the creator of the ‘Work Pays’ system.

The set (Kenneth MacLeod) depicts a “tidy but tasteless” flat, as described by Able. Light blue details subtly depict the reach of “Accessible Britain”; the large screen, ‘Able’ speaker, the electrical outlets and even the front door button- which could all be taken away as a result of the assessment. Ralph’s assessment tools also painted the same clinical ‘NHS’ blue. The set is not all that it seems, with some fun surprises included. Lighting serves to accentuate the emotional state of Chris with vibrant colours (Grant Anderson) and spotlights. The screens sell the futuristic setting and add high quality effects (Jamie MacDonald).

Drummond uses a theoretically perfect future to highlight the problems of today whilst utilising accessibility features in an original and comical execution to a riveting premise. The characters are all as flawed as the systems they support and fight – with exception to Able and Francis, who make a great double act. Laughs originate from pithy observations and well-crafted gags equally. The midway turn in tone elevates the piece from satirical drama into absurd unpredictable thriller. By the end, the audience is left with the sobering note of the lengths Chris is forced to go. Don’t. Make. Tea is a bold, razor-sharp comedy about what it really means to test someone.

DON’T. MAKE. TEA. at the Soho Theatre

Reviewed on 27th March 2024

by Jessica Potts

Photography by Andy Catlin





Previously reviewed at this venue:

PUDDLES PITY PARTY | ★★ | March 2024
LUCY AND FRIENDS | ★★★★★ | February 2024
AMUSEMENTS | ★★★★ | February 2024
WISH YOU WEREN’T HERE | ★★★ | February 2024
REPARATIONS | ★★★ | February 2024
SELF-RAISING | ★★★★★ | February 2024
FLIP! | ★★★★ | November 2023
BOY PARTS | ★★★★ | October 2023
BROWN BOYS SWIM | ★★★½ | October 2023
STRATEGIC LOVE PLAY | ★★★★★ | September 2023
KATE | ★★★★★ | September 2023
EVE: ALL ABOUT HER | ★★★★★ | August 2023



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