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  • Olivia Cox

Review - Diana: The Untold and Untrue Story

King's Head Theatre

Playing until 5th May

Photo credit: Dave Bird

Review {AD-PR Gifted}

The People’s Princess. Queen of Our Hearts. England’s Rose. Whatever moniker you prefer, there is only one Lady Di.


Princess Diana has been immortalised in films, tv shows, and even Broadway musicals, but there may be a story you haven’t heard (unless you’re a regular at the Edinburgh Fringe or very active on a particular side of Twitter), and that’s Diana: The Untold and Untrue Story. Created by self-professed ‘harbingers of theatrical chaos’ Awkward Productions, this cult show about the chapters of Lady Di’s story you don’t know (because they didn’t happen, probably) is back for a new run at the King’s Head Theatre.


Starring Linus Karp (who also writes and directs) as Diana, talking to us from heaven, it’s hard to summarise Diana: The Untold and Untrue Story in just a couple of short sentences. There’s multimedia, there’s puppetry, there’s original music — heck, there’s even hula-hooping.


A uniquely queer ode to the princess, it’s 75 minutes of sheer ridiculousness (complimentary) celebrating Diana’s immortal status as a fashion icon, gay rights activist, and all-round People’s Princess.


Karp is faultlessly hilarious as Lady Di, nailing the doe-eyed look we’ve come to associate Diana with, and he has the audience in stitches as he delivers both her famous quotes (“There were three of us, in the marriage, so it was a bit crowded”), and her lesser-known, probably-not-verbatim lines (“You have all the grace and decorum of a reversing dump truck”).


Some of the other key supporting characters are played by the audience, adding a hysterical element of uncertainty as they deliver their lines as they appear on the screen — or, in the case of the audience member playing The Corgi, follow Diana’s instructions to “roll over” on the stage. This is actually the third time I’ve seen Diana: The Untold and Untrue Story, and I was thrilled to finally be given a role. I’ll remember the thrill of my offstage performance as Diana’s Drama Teacher fondly.


Diana’s marriage to Charles is obviously a key fixture of the show, with the future king being played with aplomb by… a cardboard cut-out with hair stuck on. Meanwhile, Joseph Martin brings Camilla (also referred to as the “slag of death”) to life through a giant, completely demented puppet that delivers every line with a frankly nightmare-inducing monster voice. At one point, Charles and Camilla made terrifying love so vigorously that the cardboard cut-out actually broke. Clearly, this was unscripted, but the aftermath was so hilarious — and very well-handled — that I would maybe even suggest it gets added in as a permanent fixture of the script.


Because such is the beauty of Diana: The Untold and Untrue Story. It’s completely chaotic, a bit feral, and has no desire to chase realism. This echoes through its charmingly scrappy multimedia design, which provides plenty of hilarity — a personal favourite scene is where Di stomps down the runway of RuPaul’s Drag Race as the first ever cis, straight woman competitor — and cameos from the likes of Sir Captain Tom Moore, The Queen, and even God.


This run of the show also features some fabulous new material, including a delightful onscreen appearance by Jeanna De Waal, who plays Diana in Diana: The Musical. Her introduction of the ‘Diana Multiverse’ is a genius bit of tongue-in-cheek fun.


But between the belly laughs (or, in my case, unladylike cackles) lies a genuine celebration of Princess Diana for all the good she did during her time in the limelight, particularly in challenging the stigma around HIV/AIDs and promoting queer acceptance. It’s a joy to laugh along with Diana: The Untold and Untrue Story because it’s clear that it also harbours so much fondness for her — beyond her ‘revenge dress’ and iconic sweatshirt-and-cycling-shorts combo.


If you’re a devout royalist or easily offended, this isn’t the show for you — the Daily Mail’s notorious description of it as ‘repellent trash’ sits proudly on all marketing materials. But if you’re a fan of camp chaos, niche pop culture references and, of course, Lady Di, Diana: The Untold and Untrue Story is an unmissable, unhinged, one-of-kind piece of theatre that I couldn’t love more.


Writer, Director, Producer: Linus Karp

Co-Director, Producer, Additional Material, Stage Manager: Joseph Martin

Original Music: Wez Maddocks

Designer: Amy Pitt

Choreography: Sam Carlyle

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