Tag Archives: Sam Carlyle

Diana: The Untold And Untrue Story

Diana: The Untold And Untrue Story

★★★★

Pleasance Theatre

DIANA: THE UNTOLD AND UNTRUE STORY at the Pleasance Theatre

★★★★

Diana: The Untold And Untrue Story

“nothing can prepare you for the exceptional creativity, insanity and uniqueness of this production and its talented cast”

 

Linus Karp, the jellicle founder of Awkward Productions, returns to the stage with his newest piece of chaotic nonsense – Diana: The Untold and Untrue Story. Diana, Princess of Wales, has gained an almost mythic status since her untimely death in 1997. The people’s princess’ crowded marriage and messy divorce with now-King Charles; her extensive humanitarian work; and her effortless style captivated the world population and Karp (in drag) shares a thoroughly imagined reimagining of her extraordinary life.

The hour-long extravaganza is a feast of audience participation and multi-media. Before the show begins, random audience members (including your reviewer!) are handed character cards to indicate that they will be up during the performance to read out a short script. Props – from a mitre to a corgi mask – and hilariously pointless characters such as A Landmine and Gay Fan #2 make these interactions thoroughly enjoyable.

As expected, Karp makes great use of PowerPoint and video throughout his play. Supporting characters such as The Queen (Geri Allen) and God (Zina Badran) appear in short video clips throughout the performance with Stage Manager Joseph Martin timing them perfectly to simulate conversation and amusing interruptions. The use of such lively happenings on the screen means the barren stage is barely noticeable though some jubilee bunting or decoration to that effect would not have been amiss. A life-size cardboard cut-out of Charles is about the only item that sits on stage and even he is removed halfway through.

Karp is strong throughout and his energy infectious. Allen gives it her all as The Queen; her scenes some of the funniest. It would have been enjoyable to see more of Badran as God, a character who is only introduced in the last quarter of the play. Martin, apart from his role of Stage Manager, does an exceptional job of ‘operating’ Camilla who is represented by a giant rag doll puppet with a demonic voice. A real highlight which makes for some outlandish fight and sex sequences.

The audience are treated to four iconic looks from Diana’s wardrobe including a baggy jumper and cycling shorts and the so-called ‘revenge dress’. The wedding dress with an extremely long train also features as does the repeating motif of the princess falling to the ground in anguish as often seen in her fictional portrayals. The Queen’s various looks are impressively accurate and again it would have been nice to see more from God who simply wore a sparkly top. Perhaps some Diana merchandise or a shirt that said, ‘I went to Heaven and all I got was this lousy t-shirt’?

There is no space for tragedy in this untrue retelling of Diana’s life and as her death grows closer it would be fair for the audience to have some concern about how this might be handled. Karp’s production is undeniably tasteless but there is great sympathy for her tragic end too. This is a fantastical and campy ‘what if’ made by and for the queer community whom Diana greatly supported and in turn has been immortalised as a gay icon. There are moments where some will certainly take offense, but the play is clearly devised and delivered with good humour and an awareness of its absurdity.

You may think that you will know what to expect in Diana: The Untold and Untrue Story based on its eponymous lead’s notoriety. But nothing can prepare you for the exceptional creativity, insanity and uniqueness of this production and its talented cast. The show – enjoyable in its own right – will also leave any audience member excited for whatever Karp decides to do next.

 

Reviewed on 10th November 2022

by Flora Doble

Photography by Dave Bird

 

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:

 

 

Express G&S | ★★★★ | June 2021
Ginger Johnson & Pals | ★★★★ | June 2021
Godot is a Woman | ★★★½ | June 2021
Catching Comets | ★★★★ | September 2021
Lights Out | ★★★★ | October 2021
Dog Show | ★★★★★ | December 2021
She Seeks Out Wool | ★★★★ | January 2022
Dirty Corset | ★★½ | April 2022

 

 

Click here to read all our latest reviews

 

How to Life a Jellicle Life

★★★★

Lion and Unicorn Theatre

How to live a jellicle life

How to Live a Jellicle Life: Life Lessons From the 2019 Hit Movie Musical ‘Cats’

Lion & Unicorn Theatre

Reviewed – 21st October 2020

★★★★

 

“an hilarious journey through the fever dream that is the 2019 movie musical Cats”

 

In December 2019, the questionable decision was made to turn the Tony Award-winning musical Cats by Andrew Lloyd Webber into a blockbuster movie, in which a star-studded cast were transformed into singing and dancing humanoid-felines through the use of some rather dodgy CGI. The bizarre film adaption quickly became a meme that took the internet by storm and left reviewers in despair.

The somewhat surreal experience of watching the movie Cats had an understandably profound effect on many across the world, including Linus Karp, the director, writer and star of the new one-man show ‘how to live a jellicle life: life lessons from the 2019 hit movie musical ‘cats’’.

The show takes the form of a mock lecture in which Karp takes the audience through an animation-filled PowerPoint full of ‘jellicle’ wisdom. He begins by explaining the plot (or lack thereof) of the movie Cats. In short, Cats follows a tribe of cats called the Jellicles and the night that they make their ‘Jellicle choice’, that is, deciding which cat will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and come back to a new life. Unclear? Tough luck! As amusingly noted by Karp, that is about as much of an explanation that Lloyd Webber thought to provide.

The audience is next introduced to the Jellicle cats themselves from the “very sexy” Rum Tum Tugger played by Jason Derulo to the supposed ‘Napoleon of Crime’ Macavity the Mystery Cat. Karp makes hilarious quips and comments about all our new feline friends, and has particular fun presenting the audience with (supposedly) edited snaps of him and the lovely Mr. Mistoffelees, who he declares his true love.

The show is non-stop jokes and parodic musical numbers. The silly tone is set from the very beginning as the audience is seated to a version of Dua Lipa’s song Physical with the final chorus line replaced with ‘Let’s get Jellicle’. Later on in the performance, a disco lights machine is used to accompany a playlist of “gay-friendly pop songs” that ‘celebrate’ the Heaviside Layer. Karp is continually dancing and leaping across the stage, breaking between explanations for a bout of exaggerated musical theatre high-kicks and spins (Sam Carlyle). The absurdity of it all is infectious, and it is evident how much fun Karp is having throughout.

There is some audience participation though the ridiculousness of the show’s concept could have afforded more. Perhaps in post-Covid times, this could be incorporated more, such as a token (like a ‘Jellicle cat’ card) for the attendees to take away.

Karp is not afraid to embrace the jellicle attire (Alison Carlyle), decked out in full-body orange and black striped cat suit, a furry wig-cum-hat, and a red and black feathered tail. Throughout the performance, he adopts ‘cat-like’ movements to comic effect, and an especially funny moment is when he gets distracted by his own laser pointer. The stage is empty apart from the projector screen that sits at the back and a table with a carton of milk that Karp enthusiastically drinks from to open the show. The lights are simply done, a single spotlight on Karp as he prances around the stage.

Karp’s play is an hilarious journey through the fever dream that is the 2019 movie musical Cats. As silly as it is smart, ‘how to live a jellicle life: life lessons from the 2019 hit movie musical ‘cats’’, is a must-see for any person who left a screening of Cats pondering the epitome of philosophical questions: “how can I, too, live a Jellicle life?”

 

Reviewed by Flora Doble

Photography courtesy Awkward Productions

 


How to Live a Jellicle Life: Life Lessons From the 2019 Hit Movie Musical ‘Cats’

Lion & Unicorn Theatre until 24th October

 

Last ten shows reviewed by Flora:
Something Awful | ★★★★★ | The Vaults | January 2020
Tribes | ★★★★ | Putney Arts Theatre | January 2020
Important Art | ★★★ | The Vaults | February 2020
Jekyll & Hyde | ★★★½ | The Vaults | February 2020
Minority Report | ★★★½ | The Vaults | February 2020
The Six Wives Of Henry VIII | ★★★ | King’s Head Theatre | February 2020
Julius Caesar | ★★★★ | The Space | March 2020
The Haus Of Kunst | ★★★ | The Vaults | March 2020
Pippin | ★★★★ | The Garden Theatre | September 2020
Big Girl | ★★★ | Bread & Roses Theatre | September 2020

 

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