The title of this show is a pretty good indication of the world we’re delving into at the Pleasance Dome. When the lights dim and a projected film takes us on an angelic cloud ride narrated by ‘Diana’, it’s even more clear that we’re in for a wild trip of politically incorrect parody and mania.
The first ‘actors’ to appear on stage aren’t in fact either of the show’s real stars (creators Linus Karp and Joseph Martin) but are members of the audience, pre-selected to play some key roles throughout the event. Once Diana (Karp) is born as a fully dressed adult, the audience applauds gleefully and the acid trip life story begins.
Diana is a pop art, hyperbolically camp biography comprised of every soundbite and highlight of the royal story anyone over the age of thirty knows. It’s drag, comedy, storytelling, immersive theatre, and insane musical all at once. And it is brilliance.
Karp amplifies Diana’s trademark head tilts and intonations perfectly and brings superstar energy to every moment on stage. A prolonged and hilariously-choreographed dance with a cardboard cut-out of Charles is so ridiculous it’s genius and a crystal meth-Avenue Q Camilla puppet is utterly unhinged. We even have a corgi chase sequence and a Diana x Tarantino crossover sequence that rewrites history.
It’s pointless to be offended or even question the ethics of the show. It’s not even real events and people being trolled at this point. The Diana story has long gone beyond fact into myth and so what Karp and Martin are satirising is barely reality – it’s pop culture lore that has been chewed up and spat out ad nauseum by every form of media imaginable. The third act even goes beyond what we think we know into a pure fever dream of fantasy and queerness. At the same time, it’s cleverly mocking the cultural canonisation of Diana, pointing both to her privilege and the tabloid romanticisation of everything public she ever did.
Diana is a riot from beginning to end. The audience participation is perfectly crafted, the jokes and stings consistently spot-on, and the lead performance an absolute joy. This is pure Fringe.
Diana: The Untold and Untrue Story runs until Mon 28 Aug 2023 at Pleasance Dome – KingDome at 16:30