The Sword and the Dope at Waterloo East Theatre: Review by Stephen Vowles

Political satire can be hard to pull off. If you get it wrong and the jokes and social comment miss the mark they lay there like a bowl of forgotten custard. With Michael Head’s very apt and extremely topical ‘piss take’ of a show The Sword and the Dope – which he also directs – we get more than a joyful bowl of custard we get a whole trifle full to the top with gag after gag on the current state of affairs in the world. There’s a string of punchy quips and put downs by a cast of actors that are like a troupe of bawdy wandering minstrels.

They were hamming it up, corpsing each other and if  there were any echoes of once being part of any Am Dram society, that was welcomed and enjoyed. Think Spamelot meets Drop the Dead Donkey and you will understand what this show is all about and what it achieves. Set in the times of the court of King Arthur and the battle between the rich and privileged and the poor and the peasants, this is a frivolous, fun and frolics romp that compares those times to now and the fact that nothing has really changed.

Head lampoons all aspects of society with great skill and with star turns coming from Allan Scott Douglas and the posh narrator, Stevi Ritchie as the hero Casey, Afton Fay as Merlot the drunk Wizard and a short sighted prophet and scene stealing his own scenes. Michael Head  has put together a brawling farce and pantomime that thoroughly entertains and with lines of dialogue such as ‘I’m not gay’ and the reply, ‘Oh please you open your mouth and a rainbow fell out.’ This is clever nonsense but at times nonsense serves as a way to get the more serious messages across. Great fun!


The Sword and the Dope runs until Sunday 1st October at Waterloo East Theatre, Brad Street, London SE1. Box office 020 7928 0060.

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